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Title: Engineering microbial consortia for controllable outputs

In this study, much research has been invested into engineering microorganisms to perform desired biotransformations; nonetheless, these efforts frequently fall short of expected results due to the unforeseen effects of biofeedback regulation and functional incompatibility. In nature, metabolic function is compartmentalized into diverse organisms assembled into robust consortia, in which the division of labor is thought to lead to increased community efficiency and productivity. Here we consider whether and how consortia can be designed to perform bioprocesses of interest beyond the metabolic flexibility limitations of a single organism. Advances in post-genomic analysis of microbial consortia and application of high-resolution global measurements now offer the promise of systems-level understanding of how microbial consortia adapt to changes in environmental variables and inputs of carbon and energy. We argue that, when combined with appropriate modeling frameworks, systems-level knowledge can markedly improve our ability to predict the fate and functioning of consortia. Here we articulate our collective perspective on the current and future state of microbial community engineering and control while placing specific emphasis on ecological principles that promote control over community function and emergent properties.
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  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Montana State Univ., Bozeman, MT (United States)
  3. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA (United States)
  4. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), Zurich (Switzerland)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The ISME Journal
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: The ISME Journal; Journal ID: ISSN 1751-7362
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States