BIOMODULAR H2: Engineered Modular Bacterial Photoproduction of Hydrogen

Duration: 36 months


Coordinator: Ecole Polytechnique (France)

Contact Person:

Prof. Alfonso Jaramillo
Ecole Polytechnique
Laboratoire de Biochimie
Route de Saclay
91128 Palaiseau, France
e-mail: alfonso.jaramillo[at]
tel:+33 1 69 33 25 91
: +33 1 69 33 30 13



  • Universidad Politecnica de Valencia (Spain)
  • University of Sheffield (United Kingdom)
  • Uppsala University (Sweden)
  • University of Porto (Portugal)
  • Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel)


Project description:

BIOMODULAR H2 aims at designing reusable, standardised molecular building blocks that will produce a photosynthetic bacterium containing engineered chemical pathways for competitive, clean and sustainable hydrogen production. The engineering approach will provide the next generation of synthetic biology engineers with the toolbox to design complex circuits of high potential industrial applications such as the photo-production or photo-degradation of chemical compounds with a very high level of integration. For this purpose the project’s participants have targeted on a cyanobacterium, a very chemically rich and versatile organism highly suitable for modelling, to be used as future platform for hydrogen production and biosolar applications. In particular, the synthetic biological approach aims at creating an anaerobic environment within the cell for an optimized, highly active iron-only hydrogenase by using an oxygen consuming device, which is connected to an oxygen sensing device and regulated by artificial circuits. This project will also help to establish a systematic hierarchical engineering methodology (parts, devices and systems) to design artificial bacterial systems using a truly interdisciplinary approach that decouples design from fabrication. BIOMODULAR H2 aims to construct biological molecular parts by engineering proteins with new enzymatic activities and molecular recognition patterns, by combining computational and in-vitro evolution methodologies. Subsequently, it will design novel devices (e.g. input/output, regulatory and metabolic) by combining these parts and by using the emerging knowledge from systems biology. Furthermore, it shall design custom circuits of devices applying control engineering and optimisation. In parallel, the project will develop a cyanobacterial “chassis” able to integrate our synthetic circuits using a model-driven biotechnology.

(source: Cordis Nest Pathfinder projects 2003-2006)