Bioplastic productivity levels via photosynthesis among the world’s highest

January 23, 2014

Establishes a new synthesis route for cyanobacterial production of bioplastics

RIKEN CSRS and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have succeeded in introducing genes  from three different bacteria (phaB, phaC, nphT7) into cyanobacteria for efficient production of bioplastics using only photosynthesis.

It is possible to use only sunlight to produce bioplastics and without the use of expensive nutrient sources. The efficient production method developed by CSRS and USM researchers is expected to contribute to significant reductions in production costs and support the supply of low-cost manufactured products.

Cyanobacteria are nature’s bioreactors, and algae are able to reproduce at rapid speeds. Cyanobacterial synthesis of compounds such as isoprene (the main component in rubber) and isobutanol (a biofuel) have been reported. It will be possible to apply the altered metabolic pathways discovered in this study to increase production of several compounds. Researchers were also able to identify gene candidates for improved production by carrying out a whole genome expression analysis to determine overall cellular changes from the newly introduced metabolic pathways.

These findings are expected to contribute to the establishment of safe and clean sunlight-based bioplastics production.


Original article
PLOSONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086368
N. -S. Lau, C. P. Foong, Y. Kurihara, K. Sudesh, M. Matsui,
"RNA-Seq analysis provides insights for understanding photoautotrophic polyhydroxyalkanoate production in recombinant Synechocystis sps".

Minami Matsui
Team Leader
Synthetic Genomics Research Team, Biomass Engineering Program Cooperation Division