U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

New Technique for Analysis of Metabolic Flux in Microbial Communities
Published: February 04, 2008
Posted: February 20, 2008

A new approach has been developed by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to overcome the significant challenge of studying a microbe in its natural environment. The ability to develop biotechnology-based strategies for environmental remediation or bioenergy applications with microbes depends on understanding microbial metabolism under rapidly changing conditions. Moreover, the metabolism of a single microbe is difficult to selectively monitor in the presence of many other microbial community species The Lawrence Berkeley scientists engineered a reporter gene encoding the green fluorescent protein (GFP) into a microbe, then fed the microbe glucose labeled with the stable radioisotope carbon-13. Subsequent analysis of the metabolism of carbon-13 label from glucose into amino acid building blocks within the GFP reflected the metabolism of all the proteins in that microbe. This proof of concept of the technique lays the foundation for analysis of a range of metabolic activities within a specific microbe, rather than the entire microbial community in which it is found. The research was directed by Jay Keasling, with funding from the Genomics:GTL program in the Office of Biological & Environmental Research, and was published in the February 1, 2008, issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Contact: Sharlene Weatherwax, SC-23.2, (301) 903-3213
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-23.2 Medical Sciences Division, OBER)


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