Thesis Project Description:
Due to the imminent effects of climate change, development of renewable energy sources as an alternative to fossil fuels is crucial. Hydrogen gas (H2), a ecological energy vector, can be produced by microorganisms with hydrogenases, the biological catalysts of production and consumption of H2. The precise understanding of the molecular mechanisms of hydrogenases and microbial H2 metabolism at the fundamental level is an essential step for the application of these enzymes to biotechnology systems. My thesis project aims to answer these fundamental questions using the anaerobic bacteria Desulfobvibrio fructosovorans as a model organism. The combination of in vitro biochemical and physico-chemical studies and integrative systemic approaches (i.e. transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) should enable us to understand further the functions of Hnd hydrogenase and, in particular, to highlight how it may use the electron bifurcation mechanism that was only recently described as the third energy conservation mechanism in microorganisms. Understanding the mechanisms of this hydrogenase can allow it to be applied to technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells. Moreover, the production of bio-H2 in fermentation conditions by D. fructosovorans can also be considered.
Interdisciplinary Research Axis:
Georgia State University (USA)