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Making waves: Enhancing pollutant biodegradation via rational engineering of microbial consortia


Karakurt-Fischer, Sema; Johnson, David R; Fenner, Kathrin; Hafner, Jasmin (2023). Making waves: Enhancing pollutant biodegradation via rational engineering of microbial consortia. Water research, 247:120756.

Abstract

Biodegradation holds promise as an effective and sustainable process for the removal of synthetic chemical pollutants. Nevertheless, rational engineering of biodegradation for pollutant remediation remains an unfulfilled goal, while chemical pollution of waters and soils continues to advance. Efforts to (i) identify functional bacteria from aquatic and soil microbiomes, (ii) assemble them into biodegrading consortia, and (iii) identify maintenance and performance determinants, are challenged by large number of pollutants and the complexity in the enzymology and ecology of pollutant biodegradation. To overcome these challenges, approaches that leverage knowledge from environmental bio-chem-informatics and metabolic engineering are crucial. Here, we propose a novel high-throughput bio-chem-informatics pipeline, to link chemicals and their predicted biotransformation pathways with potential enzymes and bacterial strains. Our framework systematically selects the most promising candidates for the degradation of chemicals with unknown biotransformation pathways and associated enzymes from the vast array of aquatic and soil bacteria. We substantiated our perspective by validating the pipeline for two chemicals with known or predicted pathways and show that our predicted strains are consistent with strains known to biotransform those chemicals. Such pipelines can be integrated with metabolic network analysis built upon genome-scale models and ecological principles to rationally design fit-for-purpose bacterial communities for augmenting deficient biotransformation functions and study operational and design parameters that influence their structure and function. We believe that research in this direction can pave the way for achieving our long-term goal of enhancing pollutant biodegradation.

Abstract

Biodegradation holds promise as an effective and sustainable process for the removal of synthetic chemical pollutants. Nevertheless, rational engineering of biodegradation for pollutant remediation remains an unfulfilled goal, while chemical pollution of waters and soils continues to advance. Efforts to (i) identify functional bacteria from aquatic and soil microbiomes, (ii) assemble them into biodegrading consortia, and (iii) identify maintenance and performance determinants, are challenged by large number of pollutants and the complexity in the enzymology and ecology of pollutant biodegradation. To overcome these challenges, approaches that leverage knowledge from environmental bio-chem-informatics and metabolic engineering are crucial. Here, we propose a novel high-throughput bio-chem-informatics pipeline, to link chemicals and their predicted biotransformation pathways with potential enzymes and bacterial strains. Our framework systematically selects the most promising candidates for the degradation of chemicals with unknown biotransformation pathways and associated enzymes from the vast array of aquatic and soil bacteria. We substantiated our perspective by validating the pipeline for two chemicals with known or predicted pathways and show that our predicted strains are consistent with strains known to biotransform those chemicals. Such pipelines can be integrated with metabolic network analysis built upon genome-scale models and ecological principles to rationally design fit-for-purpose bacterial communities for augmenting deficient biotransformation functions and study operational and design parameters that influence their structure and function. We believe that research in this direction can pave the way for achieving our long-term goal of enhancing pollutant biodegradation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:540 Chemistry
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Environmental Engineering
Physical Sciences > Civil and Structural Engineering
Physical Sciences > Ecological Modeling
Physical Sciences > Water Science and Technology
Physical Sciences > Waste Management and Disposal
Physical Sciences > Pollution
Uncontrolled Keywords:Pollution, Waste Management and Disposal, Water Science and Technology, Ecological Modeling, Environmental Engineering, Civil and Structural Engineering
Language:English
Date:1 December 2023
Deposited On:23 Feb 2024 08:46
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 03:34
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0043-1354
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2023.120756
PubMed ID:37898004
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)