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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Jun;64(6):2044-50.

Spreadsheet method for evaluation of biochemical reaction rate coefficients and their uncertainties by weighted nonlinear least-squares analysis of the integrated monod equation

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Institute of Technology and Engineering, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


A convenient method for evaluation of biochemical reaction rate coefficients and their uncertainties is described. The motivation for developing this method was the complexity of existing statistical methods for analysis of biochemical rate equations, as well as the shortcomings of linear approaches, such as Lineweaver-Burk plots. The nonlinear least-squares method provides accurate estimates of the rate coefficients and their uncertainties from experimental data. Linearized methods that involve inversion of data are unreliable since several important assumptions of linear regression are violated. Furthermore, when linearized methods are used, there is no basis for calculation of the uncertainties in the rate coefficients. Uncertainty estimates are crucial to studies involving comparisons of rates for different organisms or environmental conditions. The spreadsheet method uses weighted least-squares analysis to determine the best-fit values of the rate coefficients for the integrated Monod equation. Although the integrated Monod equation is an implicit expression of substrate concentration, weighted least-squares analysis can be employed to calculate approximate differences in substrate concentration between model predictions and data. An iterative search routine in a spreadsheet program is utilized to search for the best-fit values of the coefficients by minimizing the sum of squared weighted errors. The uncertainties in the best-fit values of the rate coefficients are calculated by an approximate method that can also be implemented in a spreadsheet. The uncertainty method can be used to calculate single-parameter (coefficient) confidence intervals, degrees of correlation between parameters, and joint confidence regions for two or more parameters. Example sets of calculations are presented for acetate utilization by a methanogenic mixed culture and trichloroethylene cometabolism by a methane-oxidizing mixed culture. An additional advantage of application of this method to the integrated Monod equation compared with application of linearized methods is the economy of obtaining rate coefficients from a single batch experiment or a few batch experiments rather than having to obtain large numbers of initial rate measurements. However, when initial rate measurements are used, this method can still be used with greater reliability than linearized approaches.

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