The biosynthetic capabilities of microbes underlie their growth and interactions, playing a prominent role in microbial community structure. For large, diverse microbial communities, prediction of these capabilities is limited by uncertainty about metabolic functions and environmental conditions. To address this challenge, we propose a probabilistic method, inspired by percolation theory, to computationally quantify how robustly a genome-derived metabolic network produces a given set of metabolites under an ensemble of variable environments. We used this method to compile an atlas of predicted biosynthetic capabilities for 97 metabolites across 456 human oral microbes. This atlas captures taxonomically-related trends in biomass composition, and makes it possible to estimate inter-microbial metabolic distances that correlate with microbial co-occurrences. We also found a distinct cluster of fastidious/uncultivated taxa, including several Saccharibacteria (TM7) species, characterized by their abundant metabolic deficiencies. By embracing uncertainty, our approach can be broadly applied to understanding metabolic interactions in complex microbial ecosystems.
Dynamic resource allocation drives growth under nitrogen starvation in eukaryotes
Abstract Cells can sense changes in their extracellular environment and subsequently adapt their biomass composition. Nutrient abundance defines the capability of the cell to produce biomass components. Under nutrient-limited conditions, resource allocation dramatically shifts to carbon-rich molecules. Here, we used dynamic biomass composition data to predict changes in growth and reaction flux distributions using the available genome-scale metabolic models of five eukaryotic organisms (three heterotrophs and two phototrophs). We identified temporal profiles of metabolic fluxes that indicate long-term trends in pathway and organelle function in response to nitrogen depletion. Surprisingly, our calculations of model sensitivity and biosynthetic cost showed that free energy of biomass metabolites is the main driver of biosynthetic cost and not molecular weight, thus explaining the high costs of arginine and histidine. We demonstrated how metabolic models can accurately predict the complexity of interwoven mechanisms in response to stress over the course of growth.
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- Journal Name:
- npj Systems Biology and Applications
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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