Green isoprene closer to reality

Nov 08, 2013
A new transcriptomics-based model that accurately predicts how much isoprene the bacterium Bacillus subtilis will produce represents a step toward using bacteria as a clean, renewable fuel source.

(Phys.org) —With an eye toward maximizing isoprene production in bacteria, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University sought to understand isoprene regulation in Bacillus subtilis, a bacterium typically found in soil that naturally produces more isoprene than other microbes. Potentially, industrial quantities of isoprene, a volatile liquid currently derived from oil used for aviation fuel and industrial applications, could be derived from bacteria. Like plant and animal cells, bacteria produce isoprene in small amounts to serve important signaling and structural roles. The researchers' result was a new, transcriptomics-based model that accurately predicts how much isoprene B. subtilis will produce when stressed or nourished.

This model marks a step toward understanding how environmental changes affect gene expression and, in turn, production by the bacterium. This fundamental insight into isoprene regulation in bacteria is advancing synthetic biology approaches to engineer microbes that produce isoprene, as well as other high-value metabolites.

The team treated B. subtilis with 30 different chemical stressors and nutrients that alter isoprene production then analyzed the expression of more than 4100 . Transcriptomics data showed that of the 4100 genes, 213 genes influenced, or regulated, isoprene production.

With these 213 genes, the team built a statistical model 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.

Researchers will use this knowledge to identify the pathways that contribute to higher or lower levels of isoprene and potentially manipulate these pathways to produce high isoprene producing strains of .

Explore further: Understanding how cells follow electric fields

More information: Hess BM, J Xue, LM Markillie, RC Taylor, HS Wiley, BK Ahring, and B Linggi. 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

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 ...

How the detergent of the atmosphere is regenerated

Oct 06, 2013

It sounds unlikely: a washing machine recycles used detergent in order to use it again for the next load of dirty washing. But this is just what happens during the degradation of pollutants in the atmosphere. ...

Recommended for you

Understanding how cells follow electric fields

13 hours ago

Many living things can respond to electric fields, either moving or using them to detect prey or enemies. Weak electric fields may be important growth and development, and in wound healing: it's known that ...

Protein scaffold

May 27, 2015

Right before a cell starts to divide to give birth to a daughter cell, its biochemical machinery unwinds the chromosomes and copies the millions of protein sequences comprising the cell's DNA, which is packaged ...

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.