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Direct conversion of solar energy and carbon dioxide to drop in fuel molecules in a single biological system can be achieved from fatty acid-based biofuels such as fatty alcohols and alkanes. These molecules have similar properties to fossil fuels but can be produced by photosynthetic cyanobacteria.
Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 mutant strains containing either overexpression or deletion of the slr1609 gene, which encodes an acyl-ACP synthetase (AAS), have been constructed. The complete segregation and deletion in all mutant strains was confirmed by PCR analysis. Blocking fatty acid activation by deleting slr1609 gene in wild-type Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 led to a doubling of the amount of free fatty acids and a decrease of alkane production by up to 90 percent. Overexpression of slr1609 gene in the wild-type Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 had no effect on the production of either free fatty acids or alkanes. Overexpression or deletion of slr1609 gene in the Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 mutant strain with the capability of making fatty alcohols by genetically introducing fatty acyl-CoA reductase respectively enhanced or reduced fatty alcohol production by 60 percent.
Fatty acid activation functionalized by the slr1609 gene is metabolically crucial for biosynthesis of fatty acid derivatives in Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. It is necessary but not sufficient for efficient production of alkanes. Fatty alcohol production can be significantly improved by the overexpression of slr1609 gene.