The time course of hydrogen formation by Anabaena cylindrica was followed beneath an argon atmosphere alone and also beneath atmospheres of argon, nitrogen, and air in the presence of carbon monoxide (0.2%) and acetylene (5%). Hydrogen production beneath argon alone was comparable in rate and duration (7 to 12 days) to that which occurred beneath air in the presence of carbon monoxide (0.2%) and acetylene (5%). However, much greater longevity (16 to 26 days) and improved rates of hydrogen formation were obtained when algae were incubated beneath argon and particularly nitrogen, each supplemented with carbon monoxide and acetylene. The total hydrogen produced by these cultures was up to three times as much as that released by cultures incubated beneath argon alone. Hydrogen-oxygen ratios for argon cultures either with or without carbon monoxide and acetylene were initially 1:5 but approximated 1:2 when measured over the entire incubation period. In each case oxygen production and nitrogenase activity (acetylene reduction) continued at reduced rates after hydrogen evolution had ceased. The effects of methionine sulfoximine (2 μM), ammonium ions (0.5 mM), or both on oxygen production were generally negligible, while effects on hydrogen production were variable depending on the atmosphere used; in most cases, eventual destabilization of the system occurred. A brief comparison was made of the time courses of anaerobic and aerobic hydrogen formation by the marine cyanobacterium Calothrix membranacea. It was found that shaking of cultures was beneficial for hydrogen production but not strictly necessary. It is concluded that hydrogen production by A. cylindrica in air and particularly nitrogen in the presence of carbon monoxide and acetylene offers the best potential of the atmospheres considered on the basis of four criteria: rates and longevity of hydrogen formation, practicality of the atmosphere used, and tolerance of hydrogen evolution to slight changes in composition of the atmosphere
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