RESULTS: DNA stable isotope probing (DNA-SIP) to study the microbial isoprene-degrading community associated with oil palm trees revealed novel genera of isoprene-utilising bacteria including Novosphingobium, Pelomonas, Rhodoblastus, Sphingomonas and Zoogloea in both oil palm soils and on leaves. Amplicon sequencing of isoA genes, which encode the α-subunit of the isoprene monooxygenase (IsoMO), a key enzyme in isoprene metabolism, confirmed that oil palm trees harbour a novel diversity of isoA sequences. In addition, metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) were reconstructed from oil palm soil and leaf metagenomes and putative isoprene degradation genes were identified. Analysis of unenriched metagenomes showed that isoA-containing bacteria are more abundant in soils than in the oil palm phyllosphere.
CONCLUSION: This study greatly expands the known diversity of bacteria that can metabolise isoprene and contributes to a better understanding of the biological degradation of this important but neglected climate-active gas. Video abstract.