Synthetic Biology Approaches To Enhance Microalgal Productivity

Mihris Ibnu Saleem Naduthodi, Nico J. Claassens, Sarah D'Adamo, John van der Oost, Maria J. Barbosa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The major bottleneck in commercializing biofuels and other commodities produced by microalgae is the high cost associated with phototrophic cultivation. Improving microalgal productivities could be a solution to this problem. Synthetic biology methods have recently been used to engineer the downstream production pathways in several microalgal strains. However, engineering upstream photosynthetic and carbon fixation metabolism to enhance growth, productivity, and yield has barely been explored in microalgae. We describe strategies to improve the generation of reducing power from light, as well as to improve the assimilation of CO2 by either the native Calvin cycle or synthetic alternatives. Overall, we are optimistic that recent technological advances will prompt long-awaited breakthroughs in microalgal research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1036
Number of pages18
JournalTrends in Biotechnology
Issue number10
Early online date1 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • carbon fixation
  • microalgae
  • mixotrophy
  • photosynthesis
  • synthetic biology


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