The diversity and number of species present within microbial communities create the potential for a multitude of interspecies metabolic interactions. Here, we develop, apply, and experimentally test a framework for inferring metabolic mechanisms associated with interspecies interactions. We perform pairwise growth and metabolome profiling of co-cultures of strains from a model mouse microbiota. We then apply our framework to dissect emergent metabolic behaviors that occur in co-culture. Based on one of the inferences from this framework, we identify and interrogate an amino acid cross-feeding interaction and validate that the proposed interaction leads to a growth benefit in vitro. Our results reveal the type and extent of emergent metabolic behavior in microbial communities composed of gut microbes. We focus on growth-modulating interactions, but the framework can be applied to interspecies interactions that modulate any phenotype of interest within microbial communities.
Keywords: emergent behavior; interspecies interactions; mathematical modeling; metabolic cross-feeding; metabolism; microbial community; microbial ecology; microbiome; microbiota; systems biology.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.