349076 Engineering Oxygen Tolerant [FeFe] Hydrogenases

Monday, November 4, 2013
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton)
Tim Schnabel, Jamin Koo and James Swartz, Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

In a world facing energy shortage and climate change, much research is flowing into developing new ways to generate electricity - photovoltaic, wind, or hydroelectric. However, storing electric energy remains a problem. The solution to this problem is renewable fuel: more mobile than electricity and more efficient to store and meet flexible consumption demands. In California, for instance, 80% of all energy is consumed as fuel. Hydrogen is the cleanest of all fuels - the challenge lies in generating it sustainably. Biological production through the coupling of the [FeFe] hydrogenase CpI from bacterium Clostridium pasteurianum (Cp) to the photosynthetic pathway is one such option. [FeFe] hydrogenases are the fastest hydrogen producers compared to for example [NiFe], but are inactivated in even small partial pressures of oxygen. As oxygen is a photosynthetic by-product, engineering an oxygen tolerant [FeFe] hydrogenase is of crucial importance, and the focus of this project. Random mutagenesis combined with a novel high-throughput screen for oxygen tolerance is a powerful method to evolve the very complex hydrogenase enzyme. A study of successful mutations can lead to new understanding about the enzymatic oxygen inactivation mechanisms.

Extended Abstract: File Uploaded