Enhanced hydrogen production from formic acid by formate hydrogen lyase-overexpressing Escherichia coli strains.
Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71: 6762-6768. 2005.
A. Yoshida, T. Nishimura, H. Kawaguchi, M. Inui and H. Yukawa.

Genetic recombination of Escherichia coli in conjunction with process manipulation was employed to elevate the efficiency of hydrogen production in the resultant strain SR13 2 orders of magnitude above that of conventional methods. The formate hydrogen lyase (FHL)-overexpressing strain SR13 was constructed by combining FHL repressor (hycA) inactivation with FHL activator (fhlA) overexpression. Transcription of large-subunit formate dehydrogenase, fdhF, and large-subunit hydrogenase, hycE, in strain SR13 increased 6.5- and 7.0-fold, respectively, compared to the wild-type strain. On its own, this genetic modification effectively resulted in a 2.8-fold increase in hydrogen productivity of SR13 compared to the wild-type strain. Further enhancement of productivity was attained by using a novel method involving the induction of the FHL complex with high-cell-density filling of a reactor under anaerobic conditions. Continuous hydrogen production was achieved by maintaining the reactor concentration of the substrate (free formic acid) under 25 mM. An initial productivity of 23.6 g hydrogen h(-1) liter(-1) (300 liters h(-1) liter(-1) at 37 degrees C) was achieved using strain SR13 at a cell density of 93 g (dry weight) cells/liter. The hydrogen productivity reported in this work has great potential for practical application.