This study explored the potential of using Rhodosprillum rubrum as the biological vehicle to convert chemically simple carbon precursors to a value-added bio-based product, the biopolymer PHA. R. rubrum strains were bioengineered to overexpress individually or in various combinations, six PHA biosynthetic genes (phaC1, phaA, phaB, phaC2, phaC3, and phaJ), and the resulting nine over-expressing strains were evaluated to assess the effect on PHA content, and the effect on growth. These experiments were designed to genetically evaluate: 1) the role of each apparently redundant PHA polymerase in determining PHA productivity; 2) identify the key gene(s) within the pha biosynthetic operon that determines PHA productivity; and 3) the role of phaJ to support PHA productivity. The result of overexpressing each PHA polymerase-encoding gene indicates that phaC1 and phaC2 are significant contributors to PHA productivity, whereas phaC3 has little effect. Similarly, over-expressing individually or in combination the three PHA biosynthesis genes located in the pha operon indicates that phaB is the key determinant of PHA productivity. Finally, analogous experiments indicate that phaJ does not contribute significantly to PHA productivity. These bioengineering strains achieved PHA productivity of up to 30% of dry biomass, which is approximately 2.5-fold higher than the non-engineered control strain, indicating the feasibility of using this approach to produce value added bio-based products.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/basil-nikolau/5/