Biological hydrogen production by using co-cultures of PNS bacteria

Baysal, Görkem
Biological hydrogen production is a renewable, carbon-neutral and clean route for hydrogen production. Purple non-sulfur (PNS) bacteria have the ability to produce biohydrogen via photofermentation process. The type of the bacterial strain used in photofermentation is known to have an important effect on hydrogen yield. In this study, the effect of different co-cultures of PNS bacteria on photofermentation process was investigated in search of improving the hydrogen yield. For this purpose, growth, hydrogen production and substrate utilization of single and co-cultures of different PNS bacteria (R. capsulatus (DSM 1710), R. capsulatus hup- v (YO3), R. palustris (DSM 127) and R. sphaeroides O.U.001 (DSM 5864)) were compared on artificial H2 production medium in 150 mL photobioreactors under continuous illumination and anaerobic conditions. In general, higher hydrogen yields were obtained via co-cultivation of two different PNS bacteria when compared with single cultures. Further increase in hydrogen yield was observed with co-cultivation of three different PNS bacteria. Co-cultures of two different PNS bacteria have resulted in up to 1.4 and 2.1 fold increase in hydrogen yield and hydrogen productivity. Whereas co-cultures of three different PNS bacteria have resulted in up to 1.6 and 2.0 fold increase in hydrogen yield and hydrogen productivity compared to single cultures. These results indicate that, defined co-cultures of PNS bacteria produce hydrogen at a higher yield and productivity, due most probably to some synergistic relationship. Further studies regarding the physiological and molecular changes need to be carried out for deeper understanding of the mechanism of hydrogen production in co-cultures.