Non-destructive quantification of anaerobic gut fungi and methanogens in co-culture reveals increased fungal growth rate and changes in metabolic flux relative to mono-culture
Abstract Background

Quantification of individual species in microbial co-cultures and consortia is critical to understanding and designing communities with prescribed functions. However, it is difficult to physically separate species or measure species-specific attributes in most multi-species systems. Anaerobic gut fungi (AGF) (Neocallimastigomycetes) are native to the rumen of large herbivores, where they exist as minority members among a wealth of prokaryotes. AGF have significant biotechnological potential owing to their diverse repertoire of potent lignocellulose-degrading carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes), which indirectly bolsters activity of other rumen microbes through metabolic exchange. While decades of literature suggest that polysaccharide degradation and AGF growth are accelerated in co-culture with prokaryotes, particularly methanogens, methods have not been available to measure concentrations of individual species in co-culture. New methods to disentangle the contributions of AGF and rumen prokaryotes are sorely needed to calculate AGF growth rates and metabolic fluxes to prove this hypothesis and understand its causality for predictable co-culture design.

Results

We present a simple, microplate-based method to measure AGF and methanogen concentrations in co-culture based on fluorescence and absorbance spectroscopies. Using samples of < 2% of the co-culture volume, we demonstrate significant increases in AGF growth rate and xylan and glucose degradation rates in co-culture with methanogens more »

Conclusions

The method we present to measure AGF and methanogen concentrations enables direct growth measurements and calculation of metabolic fluxes in co-culture. These metrics are critical to develop a quantitative understanding of interwoven rumen metabolism, as well as the impact of co-culture on polysaccharide degradation and metabolite production. The framework presented here can inspire new methods to probe systems beyond AGF and methanogens. Simple modifications to the method will likely extend its utility to co-cultures with more than two organisms or those grown on solid substrates to facilitate the design and deployment of microbial communities for bioproduction and beyond.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10307492
Journal Name:
Microbial Cell Factories
Volume:
20
Issue:
1
ISSN:
1475-2859
Publisher:
National Science Foundation
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2. Abstract STUDY QUESTION

Is the combined use of fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM)-based metabolic imaging and second harmonic generation (SHG) spindle imaging a feasible and safe approach for noninvasive embryo assessment?

Metabolic imaging can sensitively detect meaningful metabolic changes in embryos, SHG produces high-quality images of spindles and the methods do not significantly impair embryo viability.

Proper metabolism is essential for embryo viability. Metabolic imaging is a well-tested method for measuring metabolism of cells and tissues, but it is unclear if it is sensitive enough and safe enough for use in embryo assessment.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

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PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

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MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

Measured FLIM parameters were highly sensitive to metabolic changes due to both metabolic perturbations and embryo development. For oocytes, metabolic parameter values were compared before and after exposure to oxamate and rotenone. The metabolic measurements provided a basis for complete separation of the data sets. For embryos, metabolic parameter values were compared between the first division and morula stages, morula and blastocyst and first division and blastocyst. The metabolic measurements again completely separated the data sets. Exposure of embryos to excessive illumination dosages (24 measurements) had no significant effect on live birth rate (5.1 ± 0.94 pups/mouse for illuminated group; 5.7 ± 1.74 pups/mouse for control group) or pup weights (1.88 ± 0.10 g for illuminated group; 1.89 ± 0.11 g for control group).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

The study was performed using a mouse model, so conclusions concerning sensitivity and safety may not generalize to human embryos. A limitation of the live birth data is also that although cages were routinely monitored, we could not preclude that some runt pups may have been eaten.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

Promising proof-of-concept results demonstrate that FLIM with SHG provide detailed biological information that may be valuable for the assessment of embryo and oocyte quality. Live birth experiments support the method’s safety, arguing for further studies of the clinical utility of these techniques.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

Supported by the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator Grant at Harvard University and by the Harvard Catalyst/The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Institutes of Health Award UL1 TR001102), by NSF grants DMR-0820484 and PFI-TT-1827309 and by NIH grant R01HD092550-01. T.S. was supported by a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology grant (1308878). S.F. and S.A. were supported by NSF MRSEC DMR-1420382. Becker and Hickl GmbH sponsored the research with the loaning of equipment for FLIM. T.S. and D.N. are cofounders and shareholders of LuminOva, Inc., and co-hold patents (US20150346100A1 and US20170039415A1) for metabolic imaging methods. D.S. is on the scientific advisory board for Cooper Surgical and has stock options with LuminOva, Inc.

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