Revealing metabolic mechanisms of interaction in the anaerobic digestion microbiome by flux balance analysis

Arianna Basile, Stefano Campanaro*, Adam Kovalovszki, Guido Zampieri, Alessandro Rossi, Irini Angelidaki, Giorgio Valle, Laura Treu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Anaerobic digestion is a key biological process for renewable energy, yet the mechanistic knowledge on its hidden microbial dynamics is still limited. The present work charted the interaction network in the anaerobic digestion microbiome via the full characterization of pairwise interactions and the associated metabolite exchanges. To this goal, a novel collection of 836 genome-scale metabolic models was built to represent the functional capabilities of bacteria and archaea species derived from genome-centric metagenomics. Dominant microbes were shown to prefer mutualistic, parasitic and commensalistic interactions over neutralism, amensalism and competition, and are more likely to behave as metabolite importers and profiteers of the coexistence. Additionally, external hydrogen injection positively influences microbiome dynamics by promoting commensalism over amensalism. Finally, exchanges of glucogenic amino acids were shown to overcome auxotrophies caused by an incomplete tricarboxylic acid cycle. Our novel strategy predicted the most favourable growth conditions for the microbes, overall suggesting strategies to increasing the biogas production efficiency. In principle, this approach could also be applied to microbial populations of biomedical importance, such as the gut microbiome, to allow a broad inspection of the microbial interplays.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMetabolic Engineering
    Pages (from-to)138-149
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Anaerobic digestion/flux balance analysis/genome-scale metabolic models/microbial interactions/renewable energy


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