Integration of Aspergillus niger transcriptomic profile with metabolic model identifies potential targets to optimise citric acid production from lignocellulosic hydrolysate
Biotechnol Biofuels Bioprod. 2022 Jan 12;15(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s13068-021-02099-2.
BACKGROUND: Citric acid is typically produced industrially by Aspergillus niger-mediated fermentation of a sucrose-based feedstock, such as molasses. The fungus Aspergillus niger has the potential to utilise lignocellulosic biomass, such as bagasse, for industrial-scale citric acid production, but realising this potential requires strain optimisation. Systems biology can accelerate strain engineering by systematic target identification, facilitated by methods for the integration of omics data into a high-quality metabolic model. In this work, we perform transcriptomic analysis to determine the temporal expression changes during fermentation of bagasse hydrolysate and develop an evolutionary algorithm to integrate the transcriptomic data with the available metabolic model to identify potential targets for strain engineering.
RESULTS: The novel integrated procedure matures our understanding of suboptimal citric acid production and reveals potential targets for strain engineering, including targets consistent with the literature such as the up-regulation of citrate export and pyruvate carboxylase as well as novel targets such as the down-regulation of inorganic diphosphatase.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we demonstrate the production of citric acid from lignocellulosic hydrolysate and show how transcriptomic data across multiple timepoints can be coupled with evolutionary and metabolic modelling to identify potential targets for further engineering to maximise productivity from a chosen feedstock. The in silico strategies employed in this study can be applied to other biotechnological goals, assisting efforts to harness the potential of microorganisms for bio-based production of valuable chemicals.