The light reactions of photosynthesis are a prime target for genetic engineering and synthetic biology approaches for three major reasons. (1) Enhancement of the process in vivo to increase the efficiency of light use promises to increase biomass and crop yields. (2) Coupling of the light reactions of photosynthesis to previously unconnected pathways will enable us to utilize the reducing power of the light reactions directly to produce large amounts of high-value compounds in vivo. (3) The high efficiency and robustness of PSI should allow it to be used in hybrids with biotic or abiotic components to generate hydrogen, simple carbon-based solar fuels, or electricity in vitro. In this review, the background to and recent developments in these three strategies are discussed.

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