Team:Macquarie Australia


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Green is the new black - Expression of Chlorophyll within Escherichia coli

Photosynthesis is a key biological pathway that uses sunlight energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into ATP, glucose
and oxygen. Chlorophyll is a green pigment that facilitates this energy production in photosynthetic organisms. Although the biosynthesis pathway for chlorophyll has been thoroughly investigated, the reproduction of this pathway in a non-photosynthetic organism has, to date, not been achieved.

Successful production of chlorophyll in a bacterial host is the first step towards the synthetic construction of photosystem II, and the eventual creation of a renewable energy source. Our research involves expression of twelve genes (from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) necessary for the chlorophyll biosynthesis pathway in a bacterial host (E. coli).

Gene sequences have been synthetically designed to allow for prokaryotic expression. By utilising Gibson assembly, we plan on being able to successfully produce chlorophyll in prokaryotic cells. This will be evident from the growth of green E. coli colonies.

Our Gene Pathway

The figure below represents our proposed chlorophyll synthesis pathway within E. coli. Each gene is represented by blue and each chlorophyll precursor is coloured according to their visual colour shown on expression. Each gene sequence has been modified for codon optimization, whilst maintaining protein integrity.