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Determining the influence of metabolic pathway interactions on the contaminant degradation performance of microbial multi­species consortia: a systems biology approach

Microbial degradation is the main process controlling the natural attenuation of organic contaminants in soil-groundwater systems.


For many contaminants, individual bacterial strains or consortia have been identified as degraders and some of their metabolic degradation pathways have been elaborated. This knowledge is however, commonly obtained from laboratory experiments using enrichment cultures. In contrast, in natural systems many strains contribute to the degradation of a contaminant and the interactions between these strains and specific degradation pathways cannot be derived from such laboratory experiments. In this project, the relevance of such interactions for the overall degradation performance of a multi-species bacterial community will be investigated by combining advanced computational approaches (database analysis, theoretical network reconstruction, reactive transport modeling) with ecological theory and results from laboratory experiments. Theoretically derived reaction networks describing different types of interaction mechanisms will be evaluated in silico for their effects on degradation performance. Hypotheses derived from computational results will be tested using experimental data obtained for multi-species microbial communities. The work is done in close collaboration between the University of Jena and the UFZ in Leipzig. 


  • 2010 - 2013




  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, HIGRADE Program


Peter Dittrich
Biosystem Analysis Research Group
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
D-07743 Jena