Description: OAK B135 We have discovered that bacteria produce and emit the hydrocarbon isoprene (2-methyl-1,3-butadiene), and have suggested that if isoprene-producing enzymes and their genes can be harnessed, useful hydrocarbon-producing systems might be constructed. The main goal of the proposed work was to establish the biochemical mechanism and regulation of isoprene formation in the model bacterial system, Bacillus subtilis. In this 3-year project we (a) characterized the physiological regulation of isoprene formation in B. subtilis and its relationship to isoprene formation in plant chloroplasts; (b) analyzed genetic controls on isoprene formation in B. subtilis; and (c) developed models to explain the biochemical rationale for isoprene formation. We are also pursued (d) new methods for continuous measurement of isoprene release in bioreactors, and (e) determined the presence of isoprene-forming Bacillus on plant roots and used B. subtilis as a biocontrol agent for protection of plant roots from plant pathogenic bacteria. We have made significant advances in several areas. These include: (1) establishing the enzymatic basis of isoprene formation in B. subtilis, and demonstrating throughout growth in a bioreactor that isoprene synthase activity rises and falls with each of three peaks of isoprene release (i.e. it appears to be a regulated enzyme). (2) We have explored genetic aspects of isoprene formation, using gene disruption methods to greatly alter the patterns of isoprene formation in bioreactors. Analysis of these mutants and alteration of cellular levels of dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP), the substrate for isoprene synthase, has led to the formulation of two models to explain why isoprene is formed: an isoprenoid overflow model and a signaling model. We have obtained compelling evidence that isoprene releases in bioreactors result from metabolic overflow. However, we have yet to determine the pattern of isoprene formation when these bacteria are grown in a more natural state (e.g. as biofilms ...
Date: September 12, 2003
Creator: Fall, Ray
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