Matthew Wade | Marie Curie Fellow, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, McMaster University
Metabolic pathway switching in anaerobic microbial communities – modelling approaches
Conventional anaerobic digestion models are typically highly parameterised and describe interactions between broad and distinct functional groups at the population level. Reduced models of the entire system or important sub-systems comprising between 2 and 5 distinct clades have allowed for rigorous mathematical analysis, both numerically and analytically. However, the underlying assumptions in these models raise questions as to whether they are useful for empiricists and engineers, in a practical sense. Recent work by synthetic biologists have demonstrated that there is still much not considered in anaerobic digestion modelling, including the possibility of methanogenic mixotrophy, known to be a feature of some species of Methanosarcina. I will discuss some possibilities and challenges related to implementing substrate mediated metabolic pathway switching in mechanistic population-based models and ask if there are opportunities to gain deeper insights from the cellular level and, specifically, metabolic modelling.