A lot of research has been performed on Cyanobacteria and microalgae with the aim to produce numerous biotechnological products. However, native strains have a few shortcomings, like limitations in cultivation, harvesting and product extraction, which prevents reaching optimal production value at lowest costs. Such limitations require the intervention of genetic engineering to produce strains with superior properties. Promising advancements in the cultivation of Cyanobacteria and microalgae have been achieved by improving photosynthetic efficiency through increasing RuBisCO activity and truncation of light-harvesting antennae. Genetic engineering has also contributed to final product extraction by inducing autolysis and product secretory systems, to enable direct product recovery without going through costly extraction steps. In this review, we summarize the different enzymes and pathways that have been targeted thus far for improving cultivation aspects, harvesting and product extraction in Cyanobacteria and microalgae. With synthetic biology advancements, genetically engineered strains can be generated to resolve demanding process issues and achieve economic practicality. This comprehensive overview of gene modifications will be useful to researchers in the field to employ on their strains to increase their yields and improve the economic feasibility of the production process.
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