An integrated systems biology approach reveals differences in formate metabolism in the genus Methanothermobacter

iScience. 2023 Sep 22;26(10):108016. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.108016. eCollection 2023 Oct 20.


Methanogenesis allows methanogenic archaea to generate cellular energy for their growth while producing methane. Thermophilic hydrogenotrophic species of the genus Methanothermobacter have been recognized as robust biocatalysts for a circular carbon economy and are already applied in power-to-gas technology with biomethanation, which is a platform to store renewable energy and utilize captured carbon dioxide. Here, we generated curated genome-scale metabolic reconstructions for three Methanothermobacter strains and investigated differences in the growth performance of these same strains in chemostat bioreactor experiments with hydrogen and carbon dioxide or formate as substrates. Using an integrated systems biology approach, we identified differences in formate anabolism between the strains and revealed that formate anabolism influences the diversion of carbon between biomass and methane. This finding, together with the omics datasets and the metabolic models we generated, can be implemented for biotechnological applications of Methanothermobacter in power-to-gas technology, and as a perspective, for value-added chemical production.

Keywords: Genetic engineering; Proteomics; Systems biology.