Acetogens are microbes which produce acetate as a fermentation by-product. They have diverse phylogeny but a metabolic feature in common called the Woods-Ljungdahl Pathway (WLP), which confers the ability to fix carbon dioxide via a non-photosynthetic route. Electrons for this process are derived from diverse substrates including molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The ability of acetogens to utilise components of syngas (H2, CO, CO2) make them an attractive target for metabolic engineering for industrially relevant products. We have previously reported the construction of a genome-scale metabolic model of the model acetogen Acetobacterium woodii using a sequenced and annotated genome of strain DSM1030. The model consists of 836 metabolites, 909 reactions and 84 transporters and can account for growth on diverse substrates reported in the literature. We identified the reactions used to catabolise fifteen single substrates and 121 substrate pair combinations, and used this to construct a sub-model representing a core set of energy producing catabolic pathways. We then introduced heterologous reactions to allow for the production of chemical of interest. Elementary modes analysis of this extended sub-model was applied to further decompose it into unique sets of the smallest functioning sub-networks. With CO2 and H2 as substrates, we find routes for the production of several chemicals where small amounts of excess ATP are produced simultaneously. Repeated analysis with alternative renewable feedstocks such as methanol and formate, indicate a wider potential in producing compounds of interest while also maintaining energy generation and co-factor conservation.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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