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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Mar;79(6):2048-53. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03298-12. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

CO-dependent H2 production by genetically engineered Thermococcus onnurineus NA1.

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  • 1Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, Ansan, South Korea.


Hydrogenogenic CO oxidation (CO + H(2)O → CO(2) + H(2)) has the potential for H(2) production as a clean renewable fuel. Thermococcus onnurineus NA1, which grows on CO and produces H(2), has a unique gene cluster encoding the carbon monoxide dehydrogenase (CODH) and the hydrogenase. The gene cluster was identified as essential for carboxydotrophic hydrogenogenic metabolism by gene disruption and transcriptional analysis. To develop a strain producing high levels of H(2), the gene cluster was placed under the control of a strong promoter. The resulting mutant, MC01, showed 30-fold-higher transcription of the mRNA encoding CODH, hydrogenase, and Na(+)/H(+) antiporter and a 1.8-fold-higher specific activity for CO-dependent H(2) production than did the wild-type strain. The H(2) production potential of the MC01 mutant in a bioreactor culture was 3.8-fold higher than that of the wild-type strain. The H(2) production rate of the engineered strain was severalfold higher than those of any other CO-dependent H(2)-producing prokaryotes studied to date. The engineered strain also possessed high activity for the bioconversion of industrial waste gases created as a by-product during steel production. This work represents the first demonstration of H(2) production from steel mill waste gas using a carboxydotrophic hydrogenogenic microbe.

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