Current status of the metabolic engineering of microorganisms for biohydrogen production

Bioresour Technol. 2011 Sep;102(18):8357-67. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2011.04.054. Epub 2011 Apr 27.


The improvement of H2 production capabilities of hydrogen (H2)-producing microorganisms is a challenging issue. Microorganisms have evolved for fast growth and substrate utilization rather than H2 production. To develop good H2-producing biocatalysts, many studies have focused on the redirection and/or reconstruction of cellular metabolisms. These studies included the elimination of enzymes and carbon pathways interfering or competing with H2 production, the incorporation of non-native metabolic pathways leading to H2 production, the utilization of various carbon substrates, the rectification of H2-producting enzymes (nitrogenase and hydrogenase) and photophosphorylation systems, and in silico pathway flux analysis, among others. Owing to these studies, significant improvements in the yield and rate of H2 production, and in the stability of H2 production activity, were reached. This review presents and discusses the recent developments in biohydrogen production, with a focus on metabolic pathway engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biofuels / analysis*
  • Fermentation / physiology
  • Hydrogen / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Engineering / trends*
  • Photolysis


  • Biofuels
  • Hydrogen