RUB » Bio » BPf » AG Photobiotechnologie

We are looking forward to your visit

AG Photobiotechnology 2017 

Current topics


Collaborators wanted!

The Photobiotechnology group is looking for two coworkers within the framework of the VolkswagenStiftung funding for an application-oriented and industry-driven project. We are looking for a postdoc (m/f/d) and a PhD student (m/f/d), who will form for 3 years a small junior research group to be dedicated to the development of DNA peptide nanomachines. The project aims at mimicking photosynthesis by combining redox-active and light-dependent DNA nanoscaffolds with peptide-based enzymatic functionalities, thus creating sustainable, yet economic photosynthetic platforms for the generation of valuable end products such as molecular hydrogen (H2). Applicants should have particular expertise in DNA chemistry, electrochemistry, materials science, or biophysics. The project is integrated into the Cluster of Excellence RESOLV ( and thus offers an exceptional experimental infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment. Please send applications no later than 25.10.2021 by email to Prof. Thomas Happe (



Lecture at the symposium of the "Research Network Sauerland Schools"

At the 1st symposium of the "Research Network Sauerland Schools" Associate Professor Dr. Anja Hemschemeier inspired students in the auditorium of the Gymnasium an der Hönne with a presentation about her research on the extraction of hydrogen from algae.



Successful Chlamy congress in France

From August 29th to September 2nd the Chlamy2020+1 took place on the beautiful Île des Embiez on the Côte d'Azur. Every two years, the international research community that studies the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and its close multicellular relatives, is meeting to present their most exciting results. Associate Professor Dr. Anja Hemschemeier from our group was invited as a chair for the session "Metabolism and responses to the environment". The other scientists from our group followed the excellent exchange and presentation of new research results via live stream.





MERCUR funds cooperative research project in DNA nanotechnology

For the project "Design of DNA-based Redox Systems", Prof. Guido Clever from TU Dortmund University and Prof. Thomas Happe will receive around 420,000 euros. In the field of DNA nanotechnology, researchers develop functional materials from DNA for technical, chemical or medical applications. In this project, DNA-based redox modules are to be produced for applications in the fields of sensor technology and green chemistry, for example in hydrogen production.



Congratulations to our coworkers and Oxford collaborators on their publication in Dalton Transactions on "Electrochemical control of [FeFe]-hydrogenase single crystals reveals complex redox populations at the catalytic site."



We congratulate the team of Ulf-Peter Apfel, Thomas Happe, Moritz Senger, and Sven Stripp on their publication in Dalton Transactions on "Site-selective protonation of the one-electron reduced cofactor in [FeFe]-hydrogenase".



Student Competition iGEM 2021

Are you interested in the field of synthetic biology? Are you fascinated by solving everyday problems through interdisciplinary research? Would you like to collaborate with others to develop solutions to the world's everyday problems? Build a better world with iGEM!

The iGEM Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing synthetic biology, education and competition, and developing an open community and collaboration. It does this by fostering an open, collaborative community and friendly competition. The main program of iGEM is the iGEM Competition. The iGEM competition gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday problems in the world. Get active, interact with students and get informed, or contact Prof. Dr. Thomas Happe.

More information



Hydrogen-producing enzyme protects itself from oxygen

The discovery could allow oxygen-stable enzymes to be used as hydrogen producers

Hydrogen-producing enzymes are considered the hope of biohydrogen research. However, they are so susceptible to atmospheric oxygen, that they cannot yet be used on a larger scale. The recently discovered [FeFe]-hydrogenase CbA5H from the bacterium Clostridium beijerinckii resists oxygen attack. An international research team from the research group Photobiotechnology of the RUB and the Laboratoire de Bioénergétique et Ingénierie des Protéines (CNRS) in Marseille, led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Happe. They describe the molecular mechanism in Nature Communications, Feb. 2, 2021.



Enzyme twin with biotechnological potential

Green algae possess two nearly identical hydrogen-producing enzymes. One has been studied for decades, while the other has received little attention - until recently.

Hydrogen-producing enzymes called hydrogenases could be a source of renewable energy. A previously little-studied hydrogenase from the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has now been characterized in more detail by the RUB Photobiotechnology research group. Green algae possess two almost identically structured hydrogenases. Although they differ in only one amino acid, they have different properties, the Bochum team found. The results describe the researchers led by Dr. Vera Engelbrecht and Prof. Dr. Thomas Happe in the December 16, 2020, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.



The Photobiotechnology group congratulates Vera Engelbrecht on her doctoral degree!



New kind of interaction discovered in hydrogen-producing enzymes

In hydrogenase enzymes, the transports of protons and electrons have been considered to be separate events until now. However, coupling is the key to success here.

Hydrogenases can convert hydrogen just as efficiently as expensive platinum catalysts. In order to make them usable for biotechnological applications, researchers are deciphering how they work in detail. Our team from RUB and the University of Oxford now reports in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) that the transfer of protons and electrons by the enzyme takes place spatially separated, but is nevertheless coupled and thus, a decisive factor for efficiency. The article was published online on 10 August 2020.



Algae as living biocatalysts for a green industry

In interdisciplinary cooperation, our Bochum research team has made a discovery that could lead to more environmental protection in the chemical industry.

Many substances that we use every day only work in the right 3D structure. Natural enzymes could produce them in an environmentally friendly way - if they are not would need an auxiliary material that had previously only been expensive to produce. Our research team has developed exactly the desired enzymes discovered. And even better: Since living algae can be used as biocatalysts for certain substances, they bring the excipient with them and provide environmentally friendly through photosynthesis. The team reports in the journal Algal Research of June 17, 2020.




How oxygen destroys the core of important enzymes

New findings are expected to help protect the hydrogen-producing enzymes from harmful oxygen – which is interesting for biotechnological applications.

Congratulations to Dr. Julian Esselborn, Dr. Leonie Kertess and coworkers on their publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, JACS, on "Loss of Specific Active-Site Iron Atoms in Oxygen-Exposed [FeFe]-Hydrogenase Determined by Detailed X-ray Structure Analyses".



The Photobiotechnology work group congratulates Oliver Lampret on obtaining his doctoral degree!



How nature builds hydrogen-producing enzymes

Congratulations to Oliver Lampret on his publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on "The final steps of [FeFe]-hydrogenase maturation"



We are delighted about the second successful symposium in Qingdao (China), which took place from 26th to 28th November 2018 within the scope of the Sino-German research collaboration Sigal4NRG. Thanks to Dominik Begerow, Thomas Happe, Ansgar Poetsch, Anja Hemschemeier, Jifu Duan, Wuxin You and Sabrina Duda, who gave a talk related to the symposium's title "Single-Cells - Recent Trends in Microbial Biotechnology and Nannochloropsis Synthetic Biology". Find more information on the symposium




Fully identified: The pathway of protons

Congratulations to Jifu Duan on his publication in Nature Communications on "Crystallographic and spectroscopic assignment of the proton transfer pathway in [FeFe]-hydrogenases"



We are happy about the membership of the Photobiotechnology group in the ZIM-cooperation network "Microalgae – a sustainable source of high quality natural products"



Cluster of Excellence secures further funding

We are delighted about the once again successful secured funding of our cluster of excellence Ruhr Explores Solvation (Resolv) and congratulate our partners on the achievement.



Imprinting sensors and solar panels

Congratulations to Thomas Happe on his publication in Chemical Science on "Preventing the coffee-ring effect and aggregate sedimentation by in situ gelation of monodisperse materials"



DNA-based artificial enzymes

Congratulations to Anja Hemschemeier and Thomas Happe on their review in Nature Reviews Chemistry on "The plasticity of redox cofactors: from metalloenzymes to redox-active DNA"



We are delighted about the official launch of "Sigal4NRG - Sino-German lab for algal bioenergy", which was announced during the kick-off meeting in Qingdao (China).

Press release Sigal4NRG

Press release CAS-QIBEBT



Protein environment makes catalyst efficient

Congratulations to Oliver Lampret on his publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on the "Interplay between CN- Ligands and the Secondary Coordination Sphere of the H-Cluster in [FeFe]-Hydrogenases" .



Enzymes produces hydrogen by using a trick

Congratulations on the publication "Proton-Coupled Reduction of the Catalytic [4Fe-4S] Cluster in [FeFe]-Hydrogenases" in Angewandte Chemie.



Enhanced research and exchange with Japan

We are delighted about the conclusion of the cooperative agreement with the Institute for Protein Research at Osaka University, our long-established cooperation partner from Japan.



Congratulations to Leonie Kertess on her publication in Chemical Science on the "Influence of the [4Fe-4S] cluster coordinating cysteines on active site maturation and catalytic properties of C. reinhardtii [FeFe]-hydrogenase".



After the ERASynBio meeting some attendees recovered by going on a bike tour through the mountains of the Ahr area.







Researchers from Bochum host the Sun2Chem ERASynBio meeting

The meeting, which included collaborators from the University of Oxford (Great Britain) and the CEA Cadarache research center (France), was held in Bad Neuenahr.



The Photobiotechnology work group congratulates David Adam on obtaining his doctoral degree!



The chair Plant Biochemistry and the Photobiotechnology work group go on an excursion to the interactive exhibition Phänomenta in Lüdenscheid.



Federal Ministry funds German-Sino research laboratory

The work group successfully applied for a call by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and received funding for their project "Sino-German lab for algae bioenergy".

For more information, please visit Sigal4NRG



Mechanism clarified

How enzymes produce hydrogen

Congratulations to Martin Winkler on his publication in Nature Communications about "Accumulating the hydride state in the catalytic cycle of [FeFe]-hydrogenases" .



Anne Sawyer presents her research work during a flash talk and in a poster session of the "Photosynthesis Gordon Research Conference" in Maine (USA).



Evolution of a bacterial enzyme in green algae

Green algae produce hydrogen, a potential energy source of tomorrow. But how did they acquire the enzymes for that purpose?

We congratulate Vera Engelbrecht on her publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta about "The structurally unique photosynthetic Chlorella variabilis NC64A hydrogenase does not interact with plant-type ferredoxins".



The Photobiotechnology work group congratulates Siv Mattke on obtaining her doctoral degree!



We congratulate Anne Sawyer and Martin Winkler on their review in Photosynthesis Research about "Evolution of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii ferredoxins and their interactions with [FeFe]-hydrogenases".



Together with collaborators in Oxford we are proud of our publication in PNAS about "Frequency and potential dependence of reversible electrocatalytic hydrogen interconversion by [FeFe]-hydrogenases".



The Photobiotechnology work group congratulates Melis Düner on obtaining her doctoral degree!



This is how green algae assemble their enzymes

For almost a decade, researchers from Bochum have been developing biotechnological methods for hydrogen production. Green algae might be the key.

We congratulate Anne Sawyer on her publication in The Plant Journal about "Compartmentalisation of [FeFe]-hydrogenase maturation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii".



At the Christmas celebration this year the Photobiotechnology work group enjoyed bowling and completed this evening with a delicious dinner.



We are delighted about the joint publication "Electrochemical investigations of the mechanism of assembly of the active-site H-cluster of [FeFe]-hydrogenases" in JACS, which is a result of a collaboration with our partners in Oxford.



Successful project meeting of the French-English-German research association Sun2Chem in Oxford, Great Britain.



Anja Hemschemeier gives an invited talk at the "19th International Conference on Oxygen Binding and Sensing Proteins" in Hamburg.



The excursion of the chair Plant Biochemistry and the Photobiotechnology work group takes the researchers to the water ski park in Duisburg.



Anne Sawyer, Anja Hemschemeier and Christina Marx present a poster about current research results at the international congress "Cell and Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas" in Kyoto (Japan). Melis Düner gives a talk about "The Role of the Soluble Guanylate Cyclase CYG12 in the Acclimation of Chlamydomonas to Anaerobiosis".




We are happy about the joint publication with collaborators from Osaka and the RUB "A structural view of synthetic cofactor integration into [FeFe]-hydrogenases", which was published in the journal Chemical Science.



We congratulate Anja Hemschemeier on her inaugural lecture where the habilitation certificate was solemnly awarded to her.



Synthesis of hydrogen

When enzymes assemble themselves in the test tube

We congratulate Jens Noth on his publication in the journal Angewandte Chemie about "[FeFe]-Hydrogenase with chalcogenide substitutions at the H-cluster maintains full H2 evolution activity".



The Photobiotechnology work group successfully supports the organization of the statussymposium of the funding initiative "Functional Macroscopic Systems" of the Volkswagen foundation.



We congratulate David Adam on his publication in ChemSusChem about "Sunlight dependent hydrogen production by photosensitizer/hydrogenase systems".



We congratulate Anja Hemschemeier on her authorisation to teach awarded to her by the faculty council.



Accession to the Ruhr h2 Network

Thomas Happe becomes a member of the advisory board of the Ruhr h2 Network, which promotes the potential of hydrogen and fuel cell technology.



The Photobiotechnology work group congratulates Julian Esselborn on obtaining his doctoral degree!



Kick-off meeting of the ERASynBio initiative Sun2Chem with collaborators of the CEA Cadarache research center and the University of Oxford in France.



Anja Hemschemeier gives a talk and presents research results in a poster session at the Botanikertagung "From Molecules to the Field" in Weihenstephan.



Anne Sawyer gives a talk about microalgae as solar-cell factories at the international "CAS Conference Synthetic Biology II" at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.



Crystallography-expert Prof. Genji Kurisu from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University Osaka (Japan) visits the Photobiotechnology work group.



The Photobiotechnology work group congratulates Jens Noth on obtaining his doctoral degree!



WAZ (22.08.2015) Cooperation is supposed to lay foundation for cutting-edge research in Herne

Foundation of the project office SolarBioproducts Ruhr. Within the cooperation with the business development agency Herne new and innovative research ideas are generated and determined for industrial application.



The Photobiotechnology work group congratulates Danuta Krawietz on obtaining her doctoral degree!



We are happy to announce the joint publication with our collaborators in Oxford "How Formaldehyde Inhibits Hydrogen Evolution by [FeFe]-Hydrogenases: Determination by 13C ENDOR of Direct Fe-C Coordination and Order of Electron and Proton Transfers", which was published in the journal JACS.



Domesticating photosynthesis - 1.2 million euros for new EU project "Sun2Chem"

Semi-artificial chloroplasts to manufacture biotechnologically relevant products.



A more efficient hydrogen production

Researchers from the RUB and the MPI Mülheim redirect electrons to hydrogen evolution.











We are excited to announce our joint publication with collaborators in Mülheim an der Ruhr "New redox states observed in [FeFe] hydrogenases reveal redox coupling within the H-cluster", which was published in the journal JACS.



Our automated liquid-handling system is now available for anaerobic high throughput experiments.



Anja Hemschemeier gives a talk at the "16th International Conference on the Cell and Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas" in California, USA about "Hypoxia signaling in Chlamydomonas".



We are pleased that Anja Hemschemeier and Thomas Happe´s article "Metalloprotein Mimics - Old Tools in a New Light" has been published in the journal Trends in Biotechnology.



Algae in Zero-Gravity - RUB-Researchers check a bioreactor for space travel on a parabolic flight

Researches of the RUB, the University of Bremen and the Karlsruher Institute for Technology work at "ModuLES – Modulares Lebenserhaltungs- und Energiesystem".



We are happy about the publication by Julian Esselborn and our collaborators in Mülheim an der Ruhr and CEA France "Spontaneous activation of [FeFe]-hydrogenases by an inorganic [2Fe] active site mimic", which was published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.



We are excited to announce our Nature publication "Biomimetic assembly and activation of [FeFe]-hydrogenases", which is a result of a collaboration with partners from Grenoble, Paris and Mülheim an der Ruhr.



We are happy about the publication by Anja Hemschemeier and colleagues "Hypoxic survival requires a 2-on-2 hemoglobin in a process involving nitric oxide", which was published in PNAS.




Our service for



  • Prof. Dr. T. Happe
  • AG Photobiotechnology
    Ruhr-University Bochum
    building: ND room: 2/169
    Universitätsstrasse 150
    44801 Bochum
  • phone: +49 234-32 27026
    fax: +49 234-32 14322
  • How to get there