Molecular Biology of Cyanobacteria

Research Focus:

Our research is settled at the interspace of basic and applied research in the fields of genetics and microbiology with a major focus on the phylum of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are the only prokaryotes performing oxygenic photosynthesis, a process which uses light energy and CO2 to form carbohydrates and biomass. Due to their photosynthetic lifestyle there is a rising interest for cyanobacteria in green biotechnology. Accordingly, an in-depth understanding of their photosynthetic apparatus as well as regulatory mechanisms that control electron fluxes to the coupled primary metabolism is of fundamental interest. Hence, our research aims at the basic understanding of those processes that control photosynthesis and metabolism in this interesting bacterial group. The obtained knowledge will provide a scientific fundament for the design of photosynthesis-driven biotechnological applications, e.g. the sustainable production of hydrogen which is a natural byproduct of photosynthesis in several cyanobacteria.

In addition, albeit the biotechnological potential of cyanobacteria is more and more exploited, one of the main problems still compromising their application is the rather limited availability of molecular toolboxes for genetic engineering. This includes the lack of easily controllable promoters that allow a wide range of expression levels for heterologous genes (e.g. for designed pathways that produce valuable chemicals). In addition to these expression platforms there is a high demand for tools that allow the integration of the engineered genetic information into the desired cyanobacterial host strains. Therefore, we also aim to increase the number of molecular toolboxes, i.e. regulatory systems for the utilization in cyanobacteria.


You could use our publication index for further requests.

2023 (4)

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2022 (5)

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2021 (6)

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2020 (1)

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2019 (4)

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2018 (5)

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2017 (3)

  • Kuchmina E., Klähn S., Jakob A., Bigott W., Enke H., Dühring U., Wilde A. (2017)
    Ethylene production in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 promotes phototactic movement.
    Microbiology, 163 (12), 1937-1945.

  • Kirsch F., Pade N., Klähn S., Hess W.R., Hagemann M. (2017)
    The glucosylglycerol-degrading enzyme GghA is involved in acclimation to fluctuating salinities by the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803.
    Microbiology, 163 (9), 1319-1328.

  • Georg J., Kostova G., Vuorijoki L., Schön V., Kadowaki T., Huokko T., Baumgartner D., Müller M., Klähn S., Allahverdiyeva Y., Hihara Y., Futschik M.E., Aro E.M., Hess W.R. (2017)
    Acclimation of oxygenic photosynthesis to iron starvation is controlled by the sRNA IsaR1.
    Current Biology 27 (10):1425-1436.e7.

2016 (3)

  • Baumgartner D., Kopf M., Klähn S., Steglich C., Hess WR. (2016)
    Small proteins in cyanobacteria provide a paradigm for the functional analysis of the bacterial micro-proteome.
    BMC Microbiology 16:285

  • Orf I., Schwarz D., Kaplan A., Kopka J., Hess W.R., Hagemann M., Klähn S.* (2016)
    CyAbrB2 contributes to the transcriptional regulation of Low CO2 acclimation in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.
    Plant and Cell Physiology 57(10): 2232–2243.
    *corresponding author

  • de Porcellinis A.J.*, Klähn S.*, Rosgaard L., Kirsch R., Gutekunst K., Georg J., Hess W.R., Sakuragi Y. (2016)
    The non-coding RNA Ncr0700/PmgR1 is required for photomixotrophic growth and the regulation of glycogen accumulation in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.
    Plant and Cell Physiology 57(10): 2091–2103.
    *shared first authors

2015 (4)

  • Klähn S., Schaal C., Georg J., Baumgartner D., Knippen G., Hagemann M., Muro-Pastor A.M., Hess W.R. (2015)
    The sRNA NsiR4 is involved in nitrogen assimilation control in cyanobacteria by targeting glutamine synthetase inactivating factor IF7.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112 (45): E6243 - E6252.

  • Orf I., Klähn S., Schwarz D., Frank M., Hess W.R., Hagemann M., Kopka J. (2015)
    Integrated analysis of engineered carbon limitation in a quadruple CO2/HCO3- uptake mutant of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.
    Plant Physiology 169: 1787 - 1806

  • Kopf M.*, Klähn S.*, Scholz I., Hess W.R., Voß B. (2015)
    Variations in the non-coding transcriptome as a driver of inter-strain divergence and physiological adaptation in bacteria.
    Scientific Reports 5: 9560.
    *shared first authors

  • Klähn S., Orf I., Schwarz D., Matthiessen J.K.F., Kopka J., Hess W.R., Hagemann M. (2015)
    Integrated transcriptomic and metabolomic characterization of the low-carbon response using an ndhR mutant of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.
    Plant Physiology 169: 1540 - 1556

2014 (5)

  • Georg J., Dienst D., Schürgers N., Wallner T., Kopp D., Stazic D., Kuchmina E., Klähn S., Lokstein H., Hess W.R., Wilde A. (2014)
    The small regulatory RNA PsrR1 controls photosynthetic functions in cyanobacteria.
    The Plant Cell 26 (9): 3661 - 3679.

  • Kopf M., Klähn S., Voß B., Stüber K., Huettel B., Reinhardt R., Hess W.R. (2014)
    Finished genome sequence of the unicellular cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6714.
    Genome Announcements 2 (4): e00757-14.

  • Klähn S., Baumgartner D., Pfreundt U., Voigt K., Schön V., Steglich C., Hess W.R. (2014)
    Alkane biosynthesis genes in cyanobacteria and their transcriptional organization.
    Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 2: 24.

  • Kopf M.*, Klähn S.*, Scholz I., Matthiessen J.K.F., Hess W.R., Voß B. (2014)
    Comparative analysis of the primary transcriptome of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.
    DNA Research 21 (5): 527 - 539.
    *shared first authors

  • Kopf M.*, Klähn S.*, Pade N., Weingärtner C., Hagemann M., Voß B., Hess W.R. (2014)
    Comparative genome analysis of the closely related Synechocystis strains PCC 6714 and PCC 6803.
    DNA Research 21 (3):255 - 266.
    *shared first authors, Editor’s choice (Highlighting article in Volume 21, Issue 3)

2013 (1)

  • Sievers N., Muders K., Henneberg M., Klähn S., Effmert M., Junghans H., Hagemann M. (2013)
    Establishing glucosylglycerol synthesis in potato (Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Albatros) by expression of the ggpPS gene from Azotobacter vinelandii.
    Journal of Plant Science and Molecular Breeding 2: 1.

2012 (2)

  • Eisenhut M., Georg J., Klähn S., Sakurai I., Mustila H., Zhang P., Hess W.R., Aro E.M. (2012)
    The antisense RNA As1_flv4 in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 prevents premature expression of the flv4-2 operon upon shift in inorganic carbon supply.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 287 (40): 33153 -33162.

  • Pade N., Compaoré J., Klähn S., Stal L.J., Hagemann M. (2012)
    The marine cyanobacterium Crocosphaera watsonii WH8501 synthesizes the compatible solute trehalose by a laterally acquired OtsAB fusion protein.
    Environmental Microbiology 14: 1261 -1271.2009 (2)

2011 (1)

  • Klähn S. and Hagemann M. (2011)
    Compatible solute biosynthesis in cyanobacteria.
    Environmental Microbiology 13: 551 - 562.

2010 (2)

  • Klähn S., Höhne A., Simon E., Hagemann M. (2010)
    The gene ssl3076 encodes a protein mediating the salt -induced expression of ggpS for the biosynthesis of the compatible solute glucosylglycerol in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803.
    Journal of Bacteriology 192: 4403 -4412.

  • Klähn S., Steglich C., Hess W.R., Hagemann M. (2010)
    Glucosylglycerate: a secondary compatible solute common to marine cyanobacteria from nitrogen-poor environments.
    Environmental Microbiology 12: 83 – 94.

2009 (1)

  • Klähn S., Marquardt D.M., Rollwitz I., Hagemann M. (2009)
    Expression of the ggpPS gene for glucosylglycerol biosynthesis from Azotobacter vinelandii improves the salt tolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana.
    Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 1679 - 1689

2008 (1)

  • Hagemann M., Ribbeck-Busch K., Klähn S., Hasse D., Steinbruch R., Berg G. (2008)
    The plant-associated bacterium Stenotrophomonas rhizophila expresses a new enzyme for the synthesis of the compatible solute glucosylglycerol.
    Journal of Bacteriology 190: 5898 - 5906.

Students are always encouraged to join our team. The available projects are interesting for those with a background in microbiology, genetics, molecular biology or related. If you are interested please contact Dr. Stephan Klähn for details.

At the moment for instance, we are seeking for a Master candidate who is helping to design cyanobacterial shuttle vectors. Albeit the biotechnological potential of cyanobacteria is more and more exploited, one of the main problems still compromising their application is the rather limited availability of molecular toolboxes for genetic engineering. Hence, this topic is of general interest for the further development of genetic engineering tools and their use in green biotechnology.