Phylogenetic and molecular analysis of hydrogen-producing green algae

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Experimental Botany, 2009, 60 (6), pp. 1691 - 1702
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A select set of microalgae are reported to be able to catalyse photobiological H2 production from water. Based on the model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a method was developed for the screening of naturally occurring H2-producing microalgae. By purging algal cultures with N2 in the dark and subsequent illumination, it is possible to rapidly induce photobiological H2 evolution. Using NMR spectroscopy for metabolic profiling in C. reinhardtii, acetate, formate, and ethanol were found to be key compounds contributing to metabolic variance during the assay. This procedure can be used to test algal species existing as axenic or mixed cultures for their ability to produce H2. Using this system, five algal isolates capable of H2 production were identified in various aquatic systems. A phylogenetic tree was constructed using ribosomal sequence data of green unicellular algae to determine if there were taxonomic patterns of H2 production. H2-producing algal species were seen to be dispersed amongst most clades, indicating an H2-producing capacity preceded evolution of the phylum Chlorophyta.
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