Dynamical Modeling of Optogenetic Circuits in Yeast for Metabolic Engineering Applications

ACS Synth Biol. 2021 Feb 19;10(2):219-227. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00372. Epub 2021 Jan 25.


Dynamic control of engineered microbes using light via optogenetics has been demonstrated as an effective strategy for improving the yield of biofuels, chemicals, and other products. An advantage of using light to manipulate microbial metabolism is the relative simplicity of interfacing biological and computer systems, thereby enabling in silico control of the microbe. Using this strategy for control and optimization of product yield requires an understanding of how the microbe responds in real-time to the light inputs. Toward this end, we present mechanistic models of a set of yeast optogenetic circuits. We show how these models can predict short- and long-time response to varying light inputs and how they are amenable to use with model predictive control (the industry standard among advanced control algorithms). These models reveal dynamics characterized by time-scale separation of different circuit components that affect the steady and transient levels of the protein under control of the circuit. Ultimately, this work will help enable real-time control and optimization tools for improving yield and consistency in the production of biofuels and chemicals using microbial fermentations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biofuels
  • Fermentation / radiation effects
  • Gene Expression / radiation effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / radiation effects
  • Kinetics
  • Light
  • Metabolic Engineering / methods*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / radiation effects
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Optogenetics / methods*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / radiation effects


  • Biofuels