The ethylene-forming enzyme (EFE) from Pseudomonas syringae catalyzes the synthesis of ethylene which can be easily detected in the headspace of closed cultures. A synthetic codon-optimized gene encoding N-terminal His-tagged EFE (EFEh) was expressed in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 (Synechocystis) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) under the control of diverse promoters in a self-replicating broad host-range plasmid. Ethylene synthesis was stably maintained in both organisms in contrast to earlier work in Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. The rate of ethylene accumulation was used as a reporter for protein expression in order to assess promoter strength and inducibility with the different expression systems. Several metal-inducible cyanobacterial promoters did not function in E. coli but were well-regulated in cyanobacteria, albeit at a low level of expression. The E. coli promoter P(trc) resulted in constitutive expression in cyanobacteria regardless of whether IPTG was added or not. In contrast, a Lac promoter variant, P(A1lacO-1), induced EFE-expression in Synechocystis at a level of expression as high as the Trc promoter and allowed a fine level of IPTG-dependent regulation of protein-expression. The regulation was tight at low cell density and became more relaxed in more dense cultures. A synthetic quorum-sensing promoter system was also constructed and shown to function well in E. coli, however, only a very low level of EFE-activity was observed in Synechocystis, independent of cell density.