Direct Photosynthetic Production of Plastic Building Block Chemicals from CO2

  • Xinyu Song
  • Yunpeng Wang
  • Jinjin Diao
  • Shubin Li
  • Lei Chen
  • Weiwen ZhangEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1080)


Hydroxy acids have attracted attention as building block chemicals due to their roles as precursors for the production of various pharmaceuticals, vitamins, antibiotics, and flavor compounds as well as monomers for biodegradable plastic polyesters. The current approach to hydroxy acid production relies on nonrenewable fossil resources such as petroleum for raw materials, raising issues such as the rising costs of starting materials and environmental incompatibility. Recently, synthetic biology approaches based on the rational design and reconstruction of new biological systems were implemented to produce chemicals from a variety of renewable substrates. In addition to research using heterotrophic organic carbon-dependent Escherichia coli or yeasts, photosynthetic microorganisms such as cyanobacteria possessing the ability to absorb solar radiation and fix carbon dioxide (CO2) as a sole carbon source have been engineered into a new type of microbial cell factory to directly produce hydroxy acids from CO2. In this chapter, recent progress regarding the direct photosynthetic production of three important hydroxy acids—3-hydroxypropionate (3-HP), 3-hydroxybutyrate (3-HB), and 3-hydroxyvalerate (3-HV)—from CO2 in cyanobacteria is summarized and discussed.


Synthetic biology Cyanobacteria 3-Hydroxybutyrate 3-Hydroxypropionate 3-Hydroxyvalerate 



D-3-phosphoglyceric acid


Acetyl coenzyme A


Adenosine 5′-diphosphate




α-ketoglutaric acid


Adenosine 5′-monophosphate


Adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP)


Coenzyme A hydrate


Dihydroxyacetone phosphate


D-Fructose 6-phosphate


D-fructose 1,6-bisphosphate


Sodium fumarate dibasic


D-glucose 6-phosphate


DL-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate


L-glutamic acid


Isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation


Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes


Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry


α-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide








Oxaloacetic acid


Phospho (enol) pyruvic acid


D-ribose 5-phosphate


D-ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate


Uridine 5′-diphosphoglucose



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) [No. 21621004, 31770100, 31170043, 31270086, and 31370115], the National Basic Research Program of China (National “973” program) [No. 2014CB745101 and No. 2011CBA00803], and the National Science Foundation of Tianjin, China [No. 13JCQNJC09900].

Conflicts of Interest

All authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinyu Song
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Yunpeng Wang
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jinjin Diao
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Shubin Li
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lei Chen
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Weiwen Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for Biosafety Research and StrategyTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Synthetic Microbiology, School of Chemical Engineering & TechnologyTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Systems Bioengineering (Ministry of Education)Tianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  4. 4.SynBio Research PlatformCollaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and EngineeringTianjinChina
  5. 5.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringTianjin UniversityTianjinChina

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