A toolbox to engineer the highly productive cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 11901

Angelo J. Victoria, Tiago Toscano Selao, José Ángel Moreno-Cabezuelo, Lauren A. Mills, Grant A. R. Gale, David J. Lea-Smith, Alistair J. McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synechococcus sp. PCC 11901 (PCC 11901) is a fast-growing marine cyanobacterial strain that has a capacity for sustained biomass accumulation to very high cell densities, comparable to that achieved by commercially relevant heterotrophic organisms. However, genetic tools to engineer PCC 11901 for biotechnology applications are limited. Here we describe a suite of tools based on the CyanoGate MoClo system to unlock the engineering potential of PCC 11901. First, we characterised neutral sites suitable for stable genomic integration that do not affect growth even at high cell densities. Second, we tested a suite of constitutive promoters, terminators, and inducible promoters including a 2, 4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG)-inducible PhlF repressor system, which has not previously been demonstrated in cyanobacteria and showed tight regulation and a 228-fold dynamic range of induction. Lastly, we developed a DAPG-inducible dCas9-based CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) system and a modular method to generate markerless mutants using CRISPR-Cas12a. Based on our findings, PCC 11901 is highly responsive to CRISPRi-based repression and showed high efficiencies for single insertion (31-81%) and multiplex double insertion (25%) genome editing with Cas12a. We envision that these tools will lay the foundations for the adoption of PCC 11901 as a robust model strain for engineering biology and green biotechnology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Physiology
Early online date7 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 May 2024

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