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Engineering microbial consortia for controllable outputs

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Review article (peer-reviewed)
Author Lindemann Stephen, Bernstein Hans, Song Hyun-Seob, Fredrickson Jim, Fields Matthew, Shou Wenying, Johnson David, Beliaev Alexander,
Project Metabolic specialization and the causes of diversity in microbial ecosystems
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Review article (peer-reviewed)

Journal ISME Journal
Page(s) 2077 - 2084
Title of proceedings ISME Journal

Open Access

Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)


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 dramatically 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.