Review Open Access

Increasing Nutritional Value of Cyanobacteria by Engineering Valine, Phenylalanine, and Fatty Acid Production

Synthetic Biology and Engineering. 2023, 1(1), 10003;
Nick Lopez-Riveira 1,    Stephen Fong 1, *   
Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received: 01 Dec 2022    Accepted: 13 Feb 2023    Published: 16 Feb 2023   


In 2020, the United Nations estimated that 2.37 billion people globally were without food or unable to eat a healthy balanced diet. The number of people with insufficient nutrition has increased in the short term due to COVID-19 pandemic and longer-term climate change is leading to shifts in arable land and water availability leading to a continued need to develop scalable sources of nutrition. One of the options that can yield high food mass per square foot of land use is the high-density culture of microalgae or other photosynthetic microorganisms. While photosynthetic microorganisms may provide high amounts of biomass with a small land footprint, the nutritional value of unmodified microorganisms may be limited. This mini-review presents the base nutritional value in terms of macro- and micronutrients of several cyanobacteria (Nostoc, Anabaena, Spirulina) in relation to established human nutritional requirements as a starting point for better utilization of cyanobacteria as nutritional supplements. It also discusses synthetic biology approaches that have been implemented in different organisms to increase the production of L-valine, L-phenylalanine, and fatty acids demonstrating some common genetic engineering design approaches and some approaches that are organism-specific.


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