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Computational Identification of Bacterial Communities

Authors: Panayiota Poirazi, Eleftheria Tzamali, Ioannis G. Tollis, Martin Reczko


Stable bacterial polymorphism on a single limiting resource may appear if between the evolved strains metabolic interactions take place that allow the exchange of essential nutrients [8]. Towards an attempt to predict the possible outcome of longrunning evolution experiments, a network based on the metabolic capabilities of homogeneous populations of every single gene knockout strain (nodes) of the bacterium E. coli is reconstructed. Potential metabolic interactions (edges) are allowed only between strains of different metabolic capabilities. Bacterial communities are determined by finding cliques in this network. Growth of the emerged hypothetical bacterial communities is simulated by extending the metabolic flux balance analysis model of Varma et al [2] to embody heterogeneous cell population growth in a mutual environment. Results from aerobic growth on 10 different carbon sources are presented. The upper bounds of the diversity that can emerge from single-cloned populations of E. coli such as the number of strains that appears to metabolically differ from most strains (highly connected nodes), the maximum clique size as well as the number of all the possible communities are determined. Certain single gene deletions are identified to consistently participate in our hypothetical bacterial communities under most environmental conditions implying a pattern of growth-condition- invariant strains with similar metabolic effects. Moreover, evaluation of all the hypothetical bacterial communities under growth on pyruvate reveals heterogeneous populations that can exhibit superior growth performance when compared to the performance of the homogeneous wild-type population.

Keywords: Evolution, Metabolic Interactions, Bacterial polymorphism, clique identification, dynamic FBA

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