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U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Engineering a More Efficient System for Harnessing Carbon Dioxide
Published: November 18, 2016
Posted: August 02, 2021


To reverse-engineer a biosynthetic pathway for more effective carbon fixation.


  • Conceived several theoretical CO2 fixation routes that (i) start with a carboxylase reaction, (ii) regenerate the carboxylation substrate to allow for continuous cycling, and (iii) feature a dedicated output reaction to channel the fixed carbon into a product.


  • In the end, through sequencing and synthesis, 17 different enzymes from 9 different organisms across the three kingdoms of life were incorporated.
  • These parts were combined to achieve a proof of principle CO2 fixation pathway performance that exceeds twat can be found in nature.
  • Potential: Synthetic CO2-fixation cycles can be introduced into organisms to bolster natural photosynthesis or, in combination with photovoltaics, lead the way to artificial photosynthesis.

Schwander, T. et. al. “A synthetic pathway for the fixation of carbon dioxide in vitro.” Science 354(6314), 900–904 (2016). [DOI:10.1126/science.aah5237]

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI)
  • Research Area: Biosystems Design

Division: SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


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