In silico evolution of Aspergillus niger organic acid production suggests strategies for switching acid output.

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In silico evolution of Aspergillus niger organic acid production suggests strategies for switching acid output.

Biotechnol Biofuels. 2020;13:27

Authors: Upton DJ, McQueen-Mason SJ, Wood AJ

Background: The fungus Aspergillus niger is an important industrial organism for citric acid fermentation; one of the most efficient biotechnological processes. Previously we introduced a dynamic model that captures this process in the industrially relevant batch fermentation setting, providing a more accurate predictive platform to guide targeted engineering. In this article we exploit this dynamic modelling framework, coupled with a robust genetic algorithm for the in silico evolution of A. niger organic acid production, to provide solutions to complex evolutionary goals involving a multiplicity of targets and beyond the reach of simple Boolean gene deletions. We base this work on the latest metabolic models of the parent citric acid producing strain ATCC1015 dedicated to organic acid production with the required exhaustive genomic coverage needed to perform exploratory in silico evolution.
Results: With the use of our informed evolutionary framework, we demonstrate targeted changes that induce a complete switch of acid output from citric to numerous different commercially valuable target organic acids including succinic acid. We highlight the key changes in flux patterns that occur in each case, suggesting potentially valuable targets for engineering. We also show that optimum acid productivity is achieved through a balance of organic acid and biomass production, requiring finely tuned flux constraints that give a growth rate optimal for productivity.
Conclusions: This study shows how a genome-scale metabolic model can be integrated with dynamic modelling and metaheuristic algorithms to provide solutions to complex metabolic engineering goals of industrial importance. This framework for in silico guided engineering, based on the dynamic batch growth relevant to industrial processes, offers considerable potential for future endeavours focused on the engineering of organisms to produce valuable products.

PMID: 32123544 [PubMed]

Source: Industry