Characterisation of a novel cyanobacterial complex synthesising succinate, a key industrial chemical


Cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria) are amongst the most abundant organisms on the planet, accounting for approximately a quarter of carbon fixation. Some species are also excellent platforms for renewable production of biofuels and industrial compounds, due to their ability to convert water and carbon dioxide into chemicals, using energy from sunlight. However, our knowledge of many key aspects of cyanobacterial biology is limited. Cyanobacteria utilise an interlinked photosynthetic and respiratory electron transport pathway to generate energy. One of the protein complexes in this pathway, succinate dehydrogenase, also plays a key role in production of the industrial chemical succinate. However, our understanding of this complex is limited. The student will use a range of techniques in this project in collaboration with Dr Guy Hanke, Queen Mary- University of London, including bacterial genetics, biochemistry, bioinformatics and cryo-electron micoscopy, to investigate the structure and function of succinate dehydrogenase under a range of environmental conditions. The student will use this knowledge to determine the optimal conditions for succinate production and test commercial strategies for production of this compound under industrially relevant conditions. This project will provide excellent training for future positions in academia or industry.


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Vasudevan R, Gale GAR, Schiavon AA, Puzorjov A, Malin J, Gillespie MD, Vavitsas K, Zulkower V, Wang B, Howe CJ, Lea-Smith DJ, McCormick AJ (2019) CyanoGate: A modular cloning suite for engineering cyanobacteria based on the plant MoClo syntax. Plant Physiology 180, 39-55.