Temperature-sensitive PSII: a novel approach for sustained photosynthetic hydrogen production

Vinzenz Bayro-Kaiser, Nathan Nelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The need for energy and the associated burden are ever growing. It is crucial to develop new technologies for generating clean and efficient energy for society to avoid upcoming energetic and environmental crises. Sunlight is the most abundant source of energy on the planet. Consequently, it has captured our interest. Certain microalgae possess the ability to capture solar energy and transfer it to the energy carrier, H2. H2 is a valuable fuel, because its combustion produces only one by-product: water. However, the establishment of an efficient biophotolytic H2 production system is hindered by three main obstacles: (1) the hydrogen-evolving enzyme, [FeFe]-hydrogenase, is highly sensitive to oxygen; (2) energy conversion efficiencies are not economically viable; and (3) hydrogen-producing organisms are sensitive to stressful conditions in large-scale production systems. This study aimed to circumvent the oxygen sensitivity of this process with a cyclic hydrogen production system. This approach required a mutant that responded to high temperatures by reducing oxygen evolution. To that end, we randomly mutagenized the green microalgae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to generate mutants that exhibited temperature-sensitive photoautotrophic growth. The selected mutants were further characterized by their ability to evolve oxygen and hydrogen at 25 and 37 °C. We identified four candidate mutants for this project. We characterized these mutants with PSII fluorescence, P700 absorbance, and immunoblotting analyses. Finally, we demonstrated that these mutants could function in a prototype hydrogen-producing bioreactor. These mutant microalgae represent a novel approach for sustained hydrogen production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Volume130
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • Hydrogen production
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosystem II
  • Sustainability
  • Temperature-sensitive mutants

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