Provided herein are polypeptides having hydrogenase activity. The polypeptide may be multimeric, and may have hydrogenase activity of at least 0.05 micromoles H.sub.2 produced min.sup.-1 mg protein.sup.-1. Also provided herein are polynucleotides encoding the polypeptides, genetically modified microbes that include polynucleotides encoding one or more subunits of the multimeric polypeptide, and methods for making and using the polypeptides.
 The present invention was made with government support under Grant No. DE-FG02-05ER15710, awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government may have certain rights in this invention.