Characterization and modelling of interspecies electron transfer mechanisms and microbial community dynamics of a syntrophic association

Harish Nagarajan, Mallory Embree, Amelia Elena Rotaru, Pravin M. Shrestha, Adam M. Feist, Bernhard Palsson, Derek R. Lovley, Karsten Zengler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Syntrophic associations are central to microbial communities and thus have a fundamental role in the global carbon cycle. Despite biochemical approaches describing the physiological activity of these communities, there has been a lack of a mechanistic understanding of the relationship between complex nutritional and energetic dependencies and their functioning. Here we apply a multi-omic modelling workflow that combines genomic, transcriptomic and physiological data with genome-scale models to investigate dynamics and electron flow mechanisms in the syntrophic association of Geobacter metallireducens and Geobacter sulfurreducens. Genome-scale modelling of direct interspecies electron transfer reveals insights into the energetics of electron transfer mechanisms. While G. sulfurreducens adapts to rapid syntrophic growth by changes at the genomic and transcriptomic level, G. metallireducens responds only at the transcriptomic level. This multi-omic approach enhances our understanding of adaptive responses and factors that shape the evolution of syntrophic communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2809
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge Muktak Aklujkar for his very valuable comments on the manuscript, Dan Carlo Flores and Mollie Murnane for laboratory assistance with culturing, substrate monitoring, dry weight, and protein determination. The authors thank Marc Abrams for his help with editing the manuscript. This work was funded by Office of Science (BER), U.S. Department of Energy (DE-SC0004485).


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