Biobased short chain fatty acid production - Exploring microbial community dynamics and metabolic networks through kinetic and microbial modeling approaches

Biotechnol Adv. 2024 Jul-Aug:73:108363. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2024.108363. Epub 2024 Apr 22.


In recent years, there has been growing interest in harnessing anaerobic digestion technology for resource recovery from waste streams. This approach has evolved beyond its traditional role in energy generation to encompass the production of valuable carboxylic acids, especially volatile fatty acids (VFAs) like acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. VFAs hold great potential for various industries and biobased applications due to their versatile properties. Despite increasing global demand, over 90% of VFAs are currently produced synthetically from petrochemicals. Realizing the potential of large-scale biobased VFA production from waste streams offers significant eco-friendly opportunities but comes with several key challenges. These include low VFA production yields, unstable acid compositions, complex and expensive purification methods, and post-processing needs. Among these, production yield and acid composition stand out as the most critical obstacles impacting economic viability and competitiveness. This paper seeks to offer a comprehensive view of combining complementary modeling approaches, including kinetic and microbial modeling, to understand the workings of microbial communities and metabolic pathways in VFA production, enhance production efficiency, and regulate acid profiles through the integration of omics and bioreactor data.

Keywords: Generalized-Lotka Volterra models; Genome-scale metabolic models; Kinetic modeling; Microbial community; ODE-based microbe effector models; Open mixed culture fermentation; Volatile fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioreactors / microbiology
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile* / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways*
  • Microbiota*
  • Models, Biological


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile