Hydrogen production with Rhodospirillum rubrum
The goal of the project is to develop a new strategy for the biological production of hydrogen employing the purple non-sulphur bacterium Rhodospirillum rubrum. R. rubrum is wellestablished as being a good hydrogen producer under phototrophic conditions in the presence of light and the absence of oxygen. Unfortunatly, the necessity for light is one of the limiting factors that has prohibited the use of very large cultures necessary for a realistic H2 yield that would satisfy commercial demands. Recently we have deloped a new growth medium for R. rubrum which causes the photosynthetic system, including the genes required for hydrogen production, to be maximally expressed in the dark under conditions of low oxygen tension. Most surprisingly, enzyme systems (e.g. hydrogenase, nitrogenase, pyruvate oxidoreductase) which are normally considered to be extremely sensitive to inactivation by oxygen are also functionally expressed. We have also shown that H2 production is significant with these conditions.
Our project partner is Prof. Ghosh at the Institute of Biology (Department of Bioenergetics). We also closly collaborate with the MPI in Magdeburg.
The project is embedded in the Center for Systems Biology (CSB) at the Universität Stuttgart.