Photoautotrophic hydrogen production by eukaryotic microalgae under aerobic conditions

Jae Hoon Hwang, Hyun Chul Kim, Jeong A. Choi, R. A.I. Abou-Shanab, Brian A. Dempsey, John M. Regan, Jung Rae Kim, Hocheol Song, In Hyun Nam, Su Nam Kim, Woojung Lee, Donghee Park, Yongje Kim, Jaeyoung Choi, Min Kyu Ji, Woosik Jung, Byong Hun Jeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Eukaryotic algae and cyanobacteria produce hydrogen under anaerobic and limited aerobic conditions. Here we show that novel microalgal strains (Chlorella vulgaris YSL01 and YSL16) upregulate the expression of the hydrogenase gene (HYDA) and simultaneously produce hydrogen through photosynthesis, using CO 2 as the sole source of carbon under aerobic conditions with continuous illumination. We employ dissolved oxygen regimes that represent natural aquatic conditions for microalgae. The experimental expression of HYDA and the specific activity of hydrogenase demonstrate that C. vulgaris YSL01 and YSL16 enzymatically produce hydrogen, even under atmospheric conditions, which was previously considered infeasible. Photoautotrophic H 2 production has important implications for assessing ecological and algae-based photolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3234
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Feb 4 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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