, Volume 41, Supplement 2, pp 163–168 | Cite as

Design, Engineering, and Construction of Photosynthetic Microbial Cell Factories for Renewable Solar Fuel Production

  • Peter Lindblad
  • Pia Lindberg
  • Paulo Oliveira
  • Karin Stensjö
  • Thorsten Heidorn


There is an urgent need to develop sustainable solutions to convert solar energy into energy carriers used in the society. In addition to solar cells generating electricity, there are several options to generate solar fuels. This paper outlines and discusses the design and engineering of photosynthetic microbial systems for the generation of renewable solar fuels, with a focus on cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are prokaryotic microorganisms with the same type of photosynthesis as higher plants. Native and engineered cyanobacteria have been used by us and others as model systems to examine, demonstrate, and develop photobiological H2 production. More recently, the production of carbon-containing solar fuels like ethanol, butanol, and isoprene have been demonstrated. We are using a synthetic biology approach to develop efficient photosynthetic microbial cell factories for direct generation of biofuels from solar energy. Present progress and advances in the design, engineering, and construction of such cyanobacterial cells for the generation of a portfolio of solar fuels, e.g., hydrogen, alcohols, and isoprene, are presented and discussed. Possibilities and challenges when introducing and using synthetic biology are highlighted.


Cyanobacteria Design and engineering Renewable energy Microbial cells Solar fuels Synthetic biology 



Our research on photosynthetic microbial cell factories for direct solar fuel production is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency, the Knut, and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (project MoSES), the Nordic Energy Agency (project AquaFEED), and the EU/Energy FP7 project SOLAR-H2 (contract # 212508).


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Lindblad
    • 1
  • Pia Lindberg
    • 1
  • Paulo Oliveira
    • 2
  • Karin Stensjö
    • 1
  • Thorsten Heidorn
    • 3
  1. 1.Photochemistry and Molecular Science, Department of Chemistry—Ångström LaboratoryUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Instituto de Biologia Molecular e CelularPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Bioforsk—Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental ResearchOsloNorway

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