Metabolic Engineering 71 , 42-61 ( 2022)
Marine macroalgae have huge potential as feedstocks for production of a wide spectrum of chemicals used in biofuels, biomaterials, and bioactive compounds. Harnessing macroalgae in these ways could promote wellbeing for people while mitigating climate change and environmental destruction linked to use of fossil fuels. Microorganisms play pivotal roles in converting macroalgae into valuable products, and metabolic engineering technologies have been developed to extend their native capabilities. This review showcases current achievements in engineering the metabolisms of various microbial chassis to convert red, green, and brown macroalgae into bioproducts. Unique features of macroalgae, such as seasonal variation in carbohydrate content and salinity, provide the next challenges to advancing macroalgae-based biorefineries. Three emerging engineering strategies are discussed here: (1) designing dynamic control of metabolic pathways, (2) engineering strains of halophilic (salt-tolerant) microbes, and (3) developing microbial consortia for conversion. This review illuminates opportunities for future research communities by elucidating current approaches to engineering microbes so they can become cell factories for the utilization of macroalgae feedstocks.