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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2012 Mar;93(6):2529-41. doi: 10.1007/s00253-011-3628-1. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Dynamic flux balance modeling of S. cerevisiae and E. coli co-cultures for efficient consumption of glucose/xylose mixtures.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-3110, USA.


Current researches into the production of biochemicals from lignocellulosic feedstocks are focused on the identification and engineering of individual microbes that utilize complex sugar mixtures. Microbial consortia represent an alternative approach that has the potential to better exploit individual species capabilities for substrate uptake and biochemical production. In this work, we construct and experimentally validate a dynamic flux balance model of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli co-culture designed for efficient aerobic consumption of glucose/xylose mixtures. Each microbe is a substrate specialist, with wild-type S. cerevisiae consuming only glucose and engineered E. coli strain ZSC113 consuming only xylose, to avoid diauxic growth commonly observed in individual microbes. Following experimental identification of a common pH and temperature for optimal co-culture batch growth, we demonstrate that pure culture models developed for optimal growth conditions can be adapted to the suboptimal, common growth condition by adjustment of the non-growth associated ATP maintenance of each microbe. By comparing pure culture model predictions to co-culture experimental data, the inhibitory effect of ethanol produced by S. cerevisiae on E. coli growth was found to be the only interaction necessary to include in the co-culture model to generate accurate batch profile predictions. Co-culture model utility was demonstrated by predicting initial cell concentrations that yield simultaneous glucose and xylose exhaustion for different sugar mixtures. Successful experimental validation of the model predictions demonstrated that steady-state metabolic reconstructions developed for individual microbes can be adapted to develop dynamic flux balance models of microbial consortia for the production of renewable chemicals.

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