Predictive model a step toward using bacteria as a renewable fuel source

Sep 18, 2013
A new transcriptomics-based model that accurately predicts how much isoprene the bacterium Bacillus subtilis will produce is a step toward using bacteria as a clean, renewable fuel source.

A new transcriptomics-based model accurately predicts how much isoprene the bacterium Bacillus subtilis will produce when stressed or nourished. This model marks a step toward understanding how changes in the bacteria's environment affect gene expression and, in turn, isoprene production. Isoprene is a volatile liquid currently derived from oil that is used for aviation fuel and industrial applications.

Potentially, isoprene could be derived from bacteria which, like plant and animal cells, produce it in small amounts to serve important signaling and structural roles. With an eye toward maximizing isoprene production in bacteria, a team of EMSL staff and users sought to understand isoprene regulation in B. subtilis, a bacterium that naturally produces more isoprene than other microbes.

The team treated B. subtilis with 30 different chemical stressors and nutrients that alter isoprene production and then analyzed the expression of over 4100 genes. Transcriptomics data showed that of the 4100 genes, 213 genes influenced, or regulated, isoprene production. With these 213 genes, the team built a that accurately predicts isoprene production levels in B. subtilis under different conditions, indicating that transcriptomics measurements alone can provide the necessary information to understand what cellular states are conducive to making isoprene.

This fundamental insight into isoprene regulation in bacteria is helping advance synthetic biology approaches to engineer microbes to produce isoprene as well as other high-value metabolites.

Explore further: Researchers capture picture of microRNA in action

More information: Hess, B. et al. 2013. Coregulation of Terpenoid Pathway Genes and Prediction of Isoprene Production in Bacillus subtilis Using Transcriptomics, PLOS ONE 8(6):e66104. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066104

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vital role for bacteria in climate-change gas cycle

Mar 29, 2010

Isoprene is a Jekyll-and-Hyde gas that is capable of both warming and cooling the Earth depending on the prevailing conditions. It is an important industrial gas, necessary for the manufacture of important ...

Plant body clock observed in tropical forest research

Sep 26, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Predictions of the ground-level pollutant ozone will be more accurate in future according to research published today by environment scientists at research centres including the University of Birmingham in ...

Recommended for you

Researchers capture picture of microRNA in action

10 hours ago

Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have described the atomic-level workings of "microRNA" molecules, which control the expression of genes in all animals and plants.

Blocking a fork in the road to DNA replication

12 hours ago

A team of Whitehead Institute scientists has discovered the surprising manner in which an enigmatic protein known as SUUR acts to control gene copy number during DNA replication. It's a finding that could shed new light on ...

Cell division, minus the cells

15 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The process of cell division is central to life. The last stage, when two daughter cells split from each other, has fascinated scientists since the dawn of cell biology in the Victorian era. ...

A new method simplifies the analysis of RNA structure

15 hours ago

To understand the function of an RNA molecule, similar to the better-known DNA and vital for cell metabolism, we need to know its three-dimensional structure. Unfortunately, establishing the shape of an RNA ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.