The production of dihydrogen by Escherichia coli and other members of the Enterobacteriaceae is one of the classic features of mixed-acid fermentation. Synthesis of the multicomponent, membrane-associated FHL (formate hydrogenlyase) enzyme complex, which disproportionates formate into CO2 and H2, has an absolute requirement for formate. Formate, therefore, represents a signature molecule in the fermenting E. coli cell and factors that determine formate metabolism control FHL synthesis and consequently dihydrogen evolution.

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