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PhD Student

Robin is a PhD student in the Murrell lab at the UEA. His project is studying the bacterial metabolism of isoprene, primarily in Rhodococcus sp. AD45 and Variovorax species. This project is funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant Studentship.


Prof J Colin Murrell

Dr Jonathan Todd


MRes Molecular Microbiology, BSc (Hons) Microbiology, Nottingham Trent University

Project Description: Bacterial Metabolism of Isoprene

As a climate active compound emitted in similar quantities to methane, isoprene has significant but largely unexplored effects on global climate. The ability of bacteria to metabolise isoprene has been explored in recent years, isoprene-degrading bacteria are particularly abundant on leaf surfaces and in soil. The influence of such bacteria on the global isoprene cycle is still unclear, although it is known that soil bacteria act as a sink for isoprene. Rhodococcus sp. AD45 has served as a key model to demonstrate the role of isoprene monooxygenase in this metabolic pathway.

The aim of this project is to determine how important isoprene-degrading bacteria are in the biogeochemical isoprene cycle. This will be achieved by identifying and characterising the enzymes which catalyse the key steps in isoprene metabolism. Also crucial to our understanding of isoprene metabolism is the regulation of this metabolic pathway. Isoprene metabolism will be studied in Rhodococcus sp. AD45 and Variovorax spp.

Techniques Used:

Growth of microbes on isoprene, physiology, biochemistry, molecular genetics. PCR, cloning, sequencing, genomics, qPCR, transcriptomics, mutagenesis, Western blotting, Immunofluorescence.


European Research Council Advanced Grant awarded to Prof Colin Murrell


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