Abstract Background Lactococcus lactis is one of the most extensively characterized lactic acid bacteria, from physiological traits to industrial exploitation. Since last decade, L. lactis has been developed into cell factories for the production of bioactive compounds such as enzymes, vaccine antigens and natural products. However, its precise and efficient genome editing tools is still required to make L. lactis more suitable candidate for engineered functionality. Results A high active recombinase, RecT of Enterococcus faecalis ATCC14506, was selected from six candidates and mediated homologous recombination between single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and the L. lactis chromosomal rpoB locus with an efficiency of 100% after rifampin selection. To screen mutants without an externally selectable phenotype, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was used for counterselection, yielding an upp mutant with an efficiency of 46%. By optimization of the copy number of plasmid carrying the CRISPR/Cas9 system and the length of spacer sequence, the off-target efficiency of the recA, galK, hemN and noxD genes were eliminated. The ability of this optimized tool to perform sequential point mutation was demonstrated using the upp and galK gene loci as targets with improved efficiencies > 75%. Moreover, seamless genomic DNA deletions (50/100 bp) or insertion (a loxP site, 34 bp) was efficiently accomplished within 72 h. Conclusions The work provided a rapid, versatile and precise tool for L. lactis genomic engineering by combination of ssDNA recombineering with improved CRISPR/Cas9 counterselection. This tool will simplify the production of isogenic strains for assessment of gene function or construction of biosynthetic host
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