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Title: Engineering microbial consortia for controllable outputs

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 resilient 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 framework that predictive knowledge generates testable hypotheses and orthogonal synthetic biology tools, such understanding can dramatically improve our ability to control the fate and functioning of consortia. In this article, 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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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1751-7362; KP1601010
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: The ISME Journal; Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 9
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
engineering microbial consortia; controllable outputs