You are using an outdated browser. This page doesn’t support Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8.Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience. Cyanobacteria and algae are becoming increasingly attractive cell factories for producing renewable biofuels and chemicals due to their ability to capture solar energy and CO2 and their relatively simple genetic background for genetic manipulation. Increasing research efforts from the synthetic biology approach have been made in recent years to modify cyanobacteria and algae for various biotechnological applications. In this article, we critically review recent progresses in developing genetic tools for characterizing or manipulating cyanobacteria and algae, the applications of genetically modified strains for synthesizing renewable products such as biofuels and chemicals. In addition, the emergent challenges in the development and application of synthetic biology for cyanobacteria and algae are also discussed. FIGURE 1. Routes for biological production of fuels and chemicals. Arrows indicate the carbon and energy flow between different carriers. Citation: Wang B, Wang J, Zhang W and Meldrum DR (2012) Application of synthetic biology in cyanobacteria and algae. Front. Microbio. 3:344. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00344 Copyright: © 2012 Wang, Wang, Zhang and Meldrum. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc. *Correspondence: Bo Wang and Deirdre R. Meldrum, Center for Biosignatures Discovery Automation, The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, 1001 South McAllister Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85287-6501, USA. e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org †Current address: Weiwen Zhang, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, People’s Republic of China Source.