Isoprene metabolism

Isoprene is the most abundant biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) in the Earth's atmosphere and plays important roles in atmospheric chemistry. Despite this, little is known about microbiological processes serving as a terrestrial sink for isoprene. While aerobic isoprene degrading bacteria have been identified, there are no known anaerobic, isoprene-metabolizing organisms. In this portfolio we have characterised an H2-consuming homoacetogenic enrichment shown to utilize 1.6 μmoles isoprene h-1 as an electron acceptor in addition to HCO3-. The isoprene-reducing community was dominated by Acetobacterium spp. and isoprene was shown to be stoichiometrically reduced to methylbutene isomers (see below). In the presence of isoprene, 40% less acetate was formed suggesting that isoprene reduction is coupled to energy conservation in Acetobacterium spp. This study improves our understanding of linkages and feedbacks between biogeochemistry and terrestrial microbial activity.