Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy
SEED FUND 3.0 project LEDCyans

Phototrophic cultivation and online monitoring of Cyanobacteria in illuminated shake flasks


In the LEDCyans project, phototrophic cultivations of cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 will be performed and monitored in a photocultivation system comprising two innovative shake flasks technologies. These technologies are a novel LED illumination module (LEDitSHAKE, Fraunhofer IME), which allows the irradiation of shake flask cultures with light of different wavelength and intensity, and the Respiration Activity MOnitoring System RAMOS. The cultivation system will be used to optimize the cultivation conditions of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Thereby, product yields for two distinct processes will be maxmized. The two model products are squalene and sucrose. Squalene is a high-value product with applications in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Therefore, the carbon flux in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 will be directed towards squalene production by integrating an inducible overexpression of squalene synthase. For the second process, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 will be genetically equipped with the sucrose transporter CscB, to convert light energy and CO2 to the fermentable sugar sucrose that is secreted. By fixing CO2 as a carbon source for heterotrophic organisms, the strains engineered in this project will be the basis for future co-cultivations with yeasts (e.g. Pichia pastoris) or fungi (e.g. Ustilago maydis) in sustainable bioprocesses. By monitoring the photosynthesis and respiration activity of the phototrophic cultivations, the direct influence of light color, light intensity and CO2 partial pressure on the growth of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and the final product yield will be investigated. Both targeted model processes will be scaled up into a 1 L stirred tank fermenter (Lambda laboratory instruments). As a quality criterion, the course of the oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer rates and the final product yields will be compared to the results from the shake flask experiments. The results from the fermenter cultivations will be used to generate a mathematical process model to perform an economic evaluation of the squalene and sucrose production and to assess the total carbon balance. The LEDCyans team consists of experts in cyanobacteria and process engineering. Furthermore, the application potential of an innovative photocultivation system as a platform technology for fast bioprocess development with phototropic microorganisms will be demonstrated.

SEED FUND 3.0 Coordinator

Prof. Dr. Jørgen Magnus
AVT - Biochemical engineering
RWTH Aachen
email: jorgen.magnus[at]avt.rwth-aachen.deProf. Dr. Jochen Büchs



Prof. Dr. Jørgen Magnus, AVT.BioVT - Institute of biochemical engineering, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Ilka Axmann, Institute for synthetic microbiology, HHU Düsseldorf


External Partners

Dr. Stefan Rasche, Ann-Katrin Beuel, Fraunhofer IME, Aachen


Funding period

01.10.2023 - 31.03.2025



LEDCyans is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.