Microb Cell Fact. 2022 Aug 19;21(1):166. doi: 10.1186/s12934-022-01893-3.
Confronted with the exhaustion of the earth’s fossil fuel reservoirs, bio-based process to produce renewable energy is receiving significant interest. Hydrogen is considered as an attractive energy carrier that can replace fossil fuels in the future mainly due to its high energy content, recyclability and environment-friendly nature. Biological hydrogen production from renewable biomass or waste materials by dark fermentation is a promising alternative to conventional routes since it is energy-saving and reduces environmental pollution. However, the current yield and evolution rate of fermentative hydrogen production are still low. Strain improvement of the microorganisms employed for hydrogen production is required to make the process competitive with traditional production methods. The present review summarizes recent progresses on the screening for highly efficient hydrogen-producing strains using various strategies. As the metabolic pathways for fermentative hydrogen production have been largely resolved, it is now possible to engineer the hydrogen-producing strains by rational design. The hydrogen yields and production rates by different genetically modified microorganisms are discussed. The key limitations and challenges faced in present studies are also proposed. We hope that this review can provide useful information for scientists in the field of fermentative hydrogen production.