Production of ω3 fatty acids in marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. strain NKBG 15041c via genetic engineering

Tomoko Yoshino, Natsumi Kakunaka, Yue Liang, Yasuhito Ito, Yoshiaki Maeda, Tatsuhiro Nomaguchi, Tadashi Matsunaga, Tsuyoshi Tanaka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Omega-3 fatty acids (ω3 FAs) have attracted attention because they have various health benefits for humans. Fish oils are currently major sources of ω3 FAs, but a sustainable supply of ω3 FAs based on fish oils is problematic because of the increasing demand. In this study, the production potential of a genetically engineered marine cyanobacterium, Synechococcus sp. strain NKBG 15041c, was examined as an alternative source of ω3 FAs. A change in fatty acid composition of this cyanobacterium was successfully induced by the expression of a heterologous Δ6-desaturase, and the transformants synthesized stearidonic acid, which the wild type cannot produce. As a result of optimization of culture conditions, maximal contents of stearidonic acid and total ω3 FAs reached 12.2 ± 2.4 and 118.1 ± 3.5 mg/g, respectively. The maximal ω3 FA productivity was 4.6 ± 0.7 mg/(L⋅day). These are the highest values of the contents of stearidonic acid and ω3 FAs in genetically engineered cyanobacteria reported thus far. Therefore, genetically engineered Synechococcus sp. strain NKBG 15041c may be a promising sustainable source of ω3 fatty acids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6899-6905
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sept 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyanobacterium
  • Delta-6 (Δ6) desaturase
  • Genetic engineering
  • Omega-3 (ω3) fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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