Phototrophic CO2 Fixation: Recent Insights into Ancient Metabolisms

  • Thomas E. Hanson
  • Birgit E. Alber
  • F. Robert Tabita
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 33)


The production of all (autotrophy) or a substantial proportion (mixotrophy) of newly synthesized biomass from carbon dioxide is a hallmark of plants and a number of bacteria and archaea. Carbon dioxide fixation enables autotrophs to form the basis of entire ecosystem foodwebs as primary producers and mixotrophs to efficiently utilize simple forms of carbon present in various environments. During fixation, CO2 must ultimately be reduced to the level of formaldehyde for assimilation into biomass and, for this reason, CO2 fixation is also utilized by numerous organisms to dispose of excess reducing power. Currently, six distinct CO2 fixation pathways are recognized amongst autotrophic prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The impact of genomics on our understanding of the distribution, function(s), and regulation of these pathways and their unique enzymes will be described as will two recently discovered pathways, one for autotrophic or mixotrophic CO2 fixation in some photosynthetic bacteria and the other for acetate assimilation by a wide range of bacteria, including phototrophs, that involves a novel carboxylation step.


Green Sulfur Bacterium NCBI Accession Number RubisCO Gene Type Reaction Center rTCA Cycle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.





3-HP pathway




ATP:citrate lyase

CBB cycle

Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle


citryl CoA synthase


citryl CoA lyase




Iron sulfur cluster

NSP bacteria

Nonsulfur purple phototrophic bacteria


Open reading frame;


Reaction center type 1 (Fe-S reducing) or type 2 (quinone reducing)


reductive or reverse TCA cycle



TEH was supported by a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (MCB-0447649). BEA would like to thank G. Fuchs (Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg) for continuous support. Research on the ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway was supported by DFG grant AL677/1-1 and NSF grant MCB-0842892. FRT was supported by DOE grants DE-FG02-07ER64489 and DE-FG02-08ER15976.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas E. Hanson
    • 1
  • Birgit E. Alber
    • 2
  • F. Robert Tabita
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, Department of Biological Sciences and Delaware Biotechnology InstituteUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of Microbiology and The Plant Molecular Biology Biology/Biotechnology ProgramThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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