creating a
healthier future

Bioengineering & Synthetic Microbiology


MicroBioSyn is a multidisciplinary group focused on basic and applied aspects of bacterial physiology and metabolism. The main research interests are: the development of bacterial chassis for downstream applications such as (photo)biocatalysis and the production of added-value compounds, exploitation of their biotechnological/biomedical potential, and the molecular mechanisms regulating the production and secretion of target molecules.



MicroBioSyn members are contributing to generating robust bacterial chassis and to (re)design pathways for the optimized production of given compounds, in collaboration with several European academic and industrial partners. In this context, we identified and validated neutral sites in the chromosome of several bacterial chassis and developed customized synthetic biology molecular tools such as promoters and integrative vectors. These tools are being used to implement heterologous biosynthetic pathways (e.g. production of compatible solutes relevant for the pharma and cosmetic industries), to control growth (e.g. by decoupling growth and production phases) and redesign metabolic fluxes to increase production yields. Currently, this approach is being followed within the EU project PhotoSynH2 in which we are developing a cyanobacterial photoautotrophic chassis with robust growth in seawater and outdoor conditions, and streamlined photosynthetic electron flow towards heterologous redox enzymes, namely engineered hydrogenase(s).
The assembly, export and characterization of cyanobacterial extracellular polymeric substances and their potential applications are being investigated, namely as ingredients for cosmetic formulations and for anti-adhesive coatings for medical devices (in collaboration with the BeSurf group at i3S and the acib centre, Austria). These biopolymers and biomolecules are also being used to prepare new soft and hard materials for the detection of disease biomarkers and drug delivery.
Furthermore, the bacterial diversity in Portuguese soils and marine environments and their potential to produce bioactive compounds is being assessed in collaboration with teams from GreenUPorto and CIIMAR.

Confocal micrograph of the filamentous, heterocyst-forming cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 grown under N2-fixing conditions. The photosynthetic cells autofluorescence is shown in red, and the expression of the Green Fluorescent Protein in N2-fixing cells only (heterocysts) is shown in green.


Selected Publications

Mascia F., Pereira S.B., Pacheco C.C., Oliveira P., Solarczek J., Schallmey A., Kourist R., Alphand V., Tamagnini P.,
Light-driven hydroxylation of testosterone by Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 expressing the heterologous CYP450 monooxygenase CYP110D1. Green Chemistry24(16):6156-6167, 2022. [Journal: Article] [CI: 8] [IF: 9,8]
DOI: 10.1039/d1gc04714k SCOPUS: 85137827924

Ferreira E.A., Pacheco C.C., Rodrigues J.S., Pinto F., Lamosa P., Fuente D., Urchueguía J., Tamagnini P.,
Heterologous Production of Glycine Betaine Using Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803-Based Chassis Lacking Native Compatible Solutes. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology9:, 2022. [Journal: Article] [CI: 2] [IF: 5,7]
DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.821075 SCOPUS: 85123170286

Santos M., Pereira S.B., Flores C., Príncipe C., Couto N., Karunakaran E., Cravo S.M., Oliveira P., Tamagnini P.,
Absence of KpsM (Slr0977) Impairs the Secretion of Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS) and Impacts Carbon Fluxes in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. mSphere6(1):1-20, 2021. [Journal: Article] [CI: 7] [IF: 5]
DOI: 10.1128/MSPHERE.00003-21 SCOPUS: 85100678478

Santos M., Pacheco C.C., Yao L., Hudson E.P., Tamagnini P.,
Crispri as a tool to repress multiple copies of extracellular polymeric substances (Eps)-related genes in the cyanobacterium synechocystis sp. pcc 6803. Life11(11):, 2021. [Journal: Article] [CI: 6] [IF: 3,3]
DOI: 10.3390/life11111198 SCOPUS: 85119015407

Mota R., Vidal R., Pandeirada C., Flores C., Adessi A., De Philippis R., Nunes C., Coimbra M.A., Tamagnini P.,
Cyanoflan: A cyanobacterial sulfated carbohydrate polymer with emulsifying properties. Carbohydrate Polymers229:, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 31] [IF: 9,4]
DOI: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2019.115525 SCOPUS: 85075448329

Flores C., Lima R.T., Adessi A., Sousa A., Pereira S.B., Granja P.L., De Philippis R., Soares P., Tamagnini P.,
Characterization and antitumor activity of the extracellular carbohydrate polymer from the cyanobacterium Synechocystis ΔsigF mutant. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules136:1219-1227, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 16] [IF: 5,2]
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2019.06.152 SCOPUS: 85068191226

Wegelius A., Khanna N., Esmieu C., Barone G.D., Pinto F., Tamagnini P., Berggren G., Lindblad P.,
Generation of a functional, semisynthetic [FeFe]-hydrogenase in a photosynthetic microorganism. Energy and Environmental Science11(11):3163-3167, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 35] [IF: 33,3]
DOI: 10.1039/c8ee01975d SCOPUS: 85056794765

Ferreira E.A., Pacheco C.C., Pinto F., Pereira J., Lamosa P., Oliveira P., Kirov B., Jaramillo A., Tamagnini P.,
Expanding the toolbox for Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803: Validation of replicative vectors and characterization of a novel set of promoters. Synthetic Biology3(1):, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 41]
DOI: 10.1093/synbio/ysy014 SCOPUS: 85091655430

Pacheco C.C., Büttel Z., Pinto F., Rodrigo G., Carrera J., Jaramillo A., Tamagnini P.,
Modulation of Intracellular O2 Concentration in Escherichia coli Strains Using Oxygen Consuming Devices. ACS Synthetic Biology7(7):1742-1752, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 2] [IF: 5,6]
DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.7b00428 SCOPUS: 85049323685

Pinto F., Pacheco C.C., Oliveira P., Montagud A., Landels A., Couto N., Wright P.C., Urchueguía J.F., Tamagnini P.,
Improving a Synechocystis-based photoautotrophic chassis through systematic genome mapping and validation of neutral sites. DNA Research22(6):425-437, 2015. [Journal: Article] [CI: 39] [IF: 5,3]
DOI: 10.1093/dnares/dsv024 SCOPUS: 84950258160

Ongoing Projects

Photosynthetic electron focusing technology for direct efficient biohydrogen production from solar energy
Reference: HORIZON-EIC-2021-PATHFINDEROPEN-01-04-GA 101070948
Proponent: CSIC-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científic
Sponsor: CE - Comissão Europeia
From 01-OCT-22 to 30-SEP-27