Summary: Mutant strains of which expressed different levels of hydrogenase activity when grown anaerobically under a variety of conditions were obtained by mutagenesis and selective growth and screening procedures. Four classes of mutants were isolated, ranging from those devoid of enzyme activity to those expressing maximal activity under all growth conditions. One class of mutants (A) could not grow on fumarate plus H in the presence of active fumarate reductase. Since hydrogenase is essential for growth under these conditions some of these strains may be hydrogenase-negative. Three other classes of mutants were isolated which were all hydrogenase-positive and fully expressed this activity when grown on fumarate plus H. They differed in the level of expression of hydrogenase activity when grown anaerobically on glucose, conditions which do not require hydrogenase for growth. Class B mutants expressed less activity, while class C mutants expressed more activity than the parental strain. Class D mutants fully expressed hydrogenase activity and were dependent on the enzyme for growth. The different strains were also assayed for reduction of dyes by hydrogen and for evolution of hydrogen from reduced methyl viologen. Some of the hydrogenase-positive strains showed altered activities in these assays suggesting that mutations may have occurred either in enzymes or proteins required for reaction with dyes or in the hydrogenase enzyme itself.


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