Maziya Ibrahim , Karthik Raman , Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal (2021) .
Microbial communities that metabolise pentose and hexose sugars are useful in producing high-value chemicals, resulting in the effective conversion of raw materials to the product, a reduction in the production cost, and increased yield. Here, we present a computational analysis approach called CAMP (Co-culture/Community Analyses for Metabolite Production) that simulates and identifies appropriate communities to produce a metabolite of interest. To demonstrate this approach, we focus on the optimal production of lactate from various Lactic Acid Bacteria. We used genome-scale metabolic models (GSMMs) belonging to Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, and Pediococcus species from the Virtual Metabolic Human (VMH; https://vmh.life/) resource and well-curated GSMMs of L. plantarum WCSF1 and L. reuteri JCM 1112. We analysed 1176 two-species communities using a constraint-based modelling method for steady-state flux-balance analysis of communities. Flux variability analysis was used to detect the maximum lactate flux in the communities. Using glucose or xylose as substrates separately or in combination resulted in either parasitism, amensalism, or mutualism being the dominant interaction behaviour in the communities. Interaction behaviour between members of the community was deduced based on variations in the predicted growth rates of monocultures and co-cultures. Acetaldehyde, ethanol, acetate, among other metabolites, were found to be cross-fed between community members. L. plantarum WCSF1 was found to be a member of communities with high lactate yields. In silico community optimisation strategies to predict reaction knock-outs for improving lactate flux were implemented. Reaction knock-outs of acetate kinase, phosphate acetyltransferase, and fumarate reductase in the communities were found to enhance lactate production.