Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2023 Aug 29;11:1162745. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2023.1162745. eCollection 2023.
Rising global greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of resultant climate change necessitate development and deployment of carbon capture and conversion technologies. Amongst the myriad of bio-based conversion approaches under evaluation, a formate bio-economy has recently been proposed, wherein CO2-derived formate serves as a substrate for concurrent carbon and energy delivery to microbial systems. To date, this approach has been explored in chemolithotrophic and heterotrophic organisms via native or engineered formatotrophy. However, utilization of this concept in phototrophic organisms has yet to be reported. Herein, we have taken the first steps to establish formate utilization in Picochlorum renovo, a recently characterized eukaryotic microalga with facile genetic tools and promising applied biotechnology traits. Plastidial heterologous expression of a formate dehydrogenase (FDH) enabled P. renovo growth on formate as a carbon and energy source. Further, FDH expression enhanced cultivation capacity on ambient CO2, underscoring the potential for bypass of conventional CO2 capture and concentration limitations. This work establishes a photoformatotrophic cultivation regime that leverages light energy-driven formate utilization. The resultant photosynthetic formate platform has widespread implications for applied phototrophic cultivation systems and the bio-economy at large.