Experiments and simulations on short chain fatty acid production in a colonic bacterial community
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Citation (published version)Bea Yu, Ilija Dukovski, David Kong, Johanna Bobrow, Alla Ostrinskaya, Daniel Segre, Todd Thorsen. 2018. "Experiments and simulations on short chain fatty acid production in a colonic bacterial community." BioRxiv, https://doi.org/10.1101/444760
Understanding how production of specific metabolites by gut microbes is modulated by interactions with surrounding species and by environmental nutrient availability is an important open challenge in microbiome research. As part of this endeavor, we explore interactions between F. prausnitzii, a major butyrate producer, and B. thetaiotaomicron, an acetate producer, under three different in vitro media conditions in monoculture and coculture. In silico Genome-scale dynamic flux balance analysis (dFBA) models of metabolism in the system using COMETS (Computation of Microbial Ecosystems in Time and Space) are also tested for explanatory, predictive and inferential power. Experimental findings indicate enhancement of butyrate production in coculture relative to F. prausnitzii monoculture but defy a simple model of monotonic increases in butyrate production as a function of acetate availability in the medium. Simulations recapitulate biomass production curves for monocultures and accurately predict the growth curve of coculture total biomass, using parameters learned from monocultures, suggesting that the model captures some aspects of how the two bacteria interact. However, a comparison of data and simulations for environmental acetate and butyrate changes suggest that the organisms adopt one of many possible metabolic strategies equivalent in terms of growth efficiency. Furthermore, the model seems not to capture subsequent shifts in metabolic activities observed experimentally under low-nutrient regimes. Some discrepancies can be explained by the multiplicity of possible fermentative states for F. prausnitzii. In general, these results provide valuable guidelines for design of future experiments aimed at better determining the mechanisms leading to enhanced butyrate in this ecosystem.
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