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Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Volume 67, 2021, Pages 111-118

A framework based on fundamental biochemical principles to engineer microbial community dynamics

Rebeca González-Cabaleiro1,Eloi Martinez-Rabert1, Lucia Argiz2, Maartje AHJ van Kessel3, Cindy J Smith1

James Watt School of Engineering, Infrastructure and Environment Research Division, University of Glasgow, Rankine Building, Glasgow, G12 8LT, UK.


Microbial communities are complex but there are basic principles we can apply to constrain the assumed stochasticity of their activity. By understanding the trade-offs behind the kinetic parameters that define microbial growth, we can explain how local interspecies dependencies arise and shape the emerging properties of a community. If we integrate these theoretical descriptions with experimental ‘omics’ data and bioenergetics analysis of specific environmental conditions, predictions on activity, assembly and spatial structure can be obtained reducing the a priori unpredictable complexity of microbial communities. This information can be used to define the appropriate selective pressures to engineer bioprocesses and propose new hypotheses which can drive experimental research to accelerate innovation in biotechnology.

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