Biotransformation of β-myrcene to geraniol by a strain of Rhodococcus erythropolis isolated by selective enrichment from hop plants
The biocatalytic generation of high-value chemicals from abundant, cheap and renewable feedstocks is an area of great contemporary interest. A strain of Rhodococcus erythropolis designated MLT1 was isolated by selective enrichment from the soil surrounding hop plants, using the abundant triene β-myrcene from hops as a sole carbon source for growth. Resting cells of the organism were challenged with β-myrcene, and the major product of biotransformation was determined by mass spectrometric analysis to be the monoterpene alcohol geraniol. Controls demonstrated that the product was biogenic and that an aerobic environment was required. The ability to transform β-myrcene was shown to be restricted to cells that had been grown on this substrate as sole carbon source. Pre-incubation of cells with the cytochrome P450 inhibitors metyrapone or 1-aminobenzotriazole reduced geraniol production by 23% and 73% respectively, but reduction in activity was found not to correlate with the inhibitor concentration. A comparative analysis of insoluble and soluble cell extracts derived from cells of MLT1 grown on either β-myrcene or glucose revealed at least four proteins that were clearly overproduced in response to growth on β-myrcene. Mass spectrometric analysis of tryptic digests of three of these protein bands suggested their identities as an aldehyde dehydrogenase, an acyl-CoA dehydrogenase and a chaperone-like protein, each of which has a precedented role in hydrocarbon metabolism clusters in Rhodococcus sp. and which may therefore participate in a β-myrcene degradation pathway in this organism.