Semi-automated curation of metabolic models via flux balance analysis: a case study with Mycoplasma gallisepticum

PLoS Comput Biol. 2013;9(9):e1003208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003208. Epub 2013 Sep 5.


Primarily used for metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, genome-scale metabolic modeling shows tremendous potential as a tool for fundamental research and curation of metabolism. Through a novel integration of flux balance analysis and genetic algorithms, a strategy to curate metabolic networks and facilitate identification of metabolic pathways that may not be directly inferable solely from genome annotation was developed. Specifically, metabolites involved in unknown reactions can be determined, and potentially erroneous pathways can be identified. The procedure developed allows for new fundamental insight into metabolism, as well as acting as a semi-automated curation methodology for genome-scale metabolic modeling. To validate the methodology, a genome-scale metabolic model for the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum was created. Several reactions not predicted by the genome annotation were postulated and validated via the literature. The model predicted an average growth rate of 0.358±0.12[Formula: see text], closely matching the experimentally determined growth rate of M. gallisepticum of 0.244±0.03[Formula: see text]. This work presents a powerful algorithm for facilitating the identification and curation of previously known and new metabolic pathways, as well as presenting the first genome-scale reconstruction of M. gallisepticum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Automation*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mycoplasma gallisepticum / metabolism*
  • Mycoplasma gallisepticum / physiology