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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;616:110-21.

Hydrogen fuel production by transgenic microalgae.

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University of California, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, 111 Koshland Hall, Berkeley, California 94720-3102, USA.


This chapter summarizes the state-of-art in the field of green algal H2-production and examines physiological and genetic engineering approaches by which to improve the hydrogen metabolism characteristics of these microalgae. Included in this chapter are emerging topics pertaining to the application of sulfur-nutrient deprivation to attenuate O2-evolution and to promote H2-production, as well as the genetic engineering of sulfate uptake through manipulation of a newly reported sulfate permease in the chloroplast of the model green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Application of the green algal hydrogenase assembly genes is examined in efforts to confer H2-production capacity to other commercially significant unicellular green algae. Engineering a solution to the O2 sensitivity of the green algal hydrogenase is discussed as an alternative approach to sulfur nutrient deprivation, along with starch accumulation in microalgae for enhanced H2-production. Lastly, current efforts aiming to optimize light utilization in transgenic microalgae for enhanced H2-production under mass culture conditions are presented. It is evident that application of genetic engineering technologies and the use of transgenic green algae will improve prospects for commercial exploitation of these photosynthetic micro-organisms in the generation of H2, a clean and renewable fuel.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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