❮ Back to all News

PROMICON Asks, CSIC Answers - Team 'Synthetic Consortia for Production’

24 November 2023
Share on:

Navigating PROMICON's research landscape in the #PromiconAsksPromiconAnswers campaign, our attention is now turning towards CSIC members working behind the 'Synthetic Consortia for Production’ team. The team strives to craft a synthetic consortium of bacteria, proficient in harnessing CO2 and light to produce valuable biopolymers, bulk chemicals, and fuels. The process involves synergising photosynthetic bacteria with those adept at utilising the organic compounds generated for targeted product creation.

The synthetic consortium encompasses three crucial bacterial modules: Farmer, Labour, and Balancer. Farmers, represented by cyanobacteria strains like Synechocystis and Synechococcus, undergo genetic optimisation to efficiently convert CO2 and light into sucrose or acetate. The Labour force, featuring Pseudomonas putida, Rhodopseudomonas palustris, and Escherichia coli strains, utilises these organic compounds to generate biopolymers (PHACOS), hydrogen, or butanol. The Balancer modules, comprising Pseudomonas strains, play a pivotal role in facilitating interactions between the Farmer and Labour strains.

Sucrose emerges as a crucial intermediate, acting as the linchpin connecting the Farmer and Labour modules within the synthetic consortium. The CSIC team strategically applies genetic modifications to enhance and optimise sucrose production in the cyanobacteria of the Farmer module, ensuring a robust and vital food source for subsequent processes.

Labour modules are essential as they significantly contribute to the production of value-added products such as antimicrobial biopolymers (PHACOS), butanol, and hydrogen. The team's focus on Pseudomonas putida, Escherichia coli, and Rhodopseudomonas palustris involves genetic modifications to optimise bioconversion processes, utilising sucrose or acetate from the Farmer module.

Genetic modifications play a pivotal role for the team, allowing for the amplification of bacteria's endogenous metabolism to meet specific biotechnological goals. This involves overexpressing heterologous genes and/or knocking out endogenous genes, precisely fine-tuning the bacteria's capabilities. Within the team's framework, E. coli and P. putida undergo genetic engineering to convert acetate, produced by the Farmer strains, into butanol. This involves cloning and expressing genes related to the butanol biosynthesis pathway in the Labour strains, optimising butanol production.

Introducing the concept of 3D synthetic microbiomes, CSIC focuses on optimizing the spatial and temporal organization of consortia. This aims to enhance the interaction between Farmer and Labour bacteria. Specific protein adhesins, based on camel nanobodies, are engineered for recognition and binding. The ultimate goal is to achieve optimal transfer of intermediary molecules and enhance the cell factory's production capabilities.

In the realm of computer modelling, CSIC utilises genome-scale metabolic models for in-silico experiments. This strategic approach extends to microbial communities, employing bioinformatic analyses to enhance the conversion of CO2 and light into desired final products.

Stay tuned for the upcoming posts and follow #PAPA on our social media channels.