Bioremediation in marine ecosystems: a computational study combining ecological modeling and flux balance analysis

Marianna Taffi, Nicola Paoletti, Claudio Angione, Sandra Pucciarelli, Mauro Marini, Pietro Lió

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    The pressure to search effective bioremediation methodologies for contaminated ecosystems has led to the large-scale identification of microbial species and metabolic degradation pathways. However, minor attention has been paid to the study of bioremediation in marine food webs and to the definition of integrated strategies for reducing bioaccumulation in species. We propose a novel computational framework for analysing the multiscale effects of bioremediation at the ecosystem level, based on coupling food web bioaccumulation models and metabolic models of degrading bacteria. The combination of techniques from synthetic biology and ecological network analysis allows the specification of arbitrary scenarios of contaminant removal and the evaluation of strategies based on natural or synthetic microbial strains. In this study, we derive a bioaccumulation model of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Adriatic food web, and we extend a metabolic reconstruction of Pseudomonas putida KT2440 (iJN746) with the aerobic pathway of PCBs degradation. We assess the effectiveness of different bioremediation scenarios in reducing PCBs concentration in species and we study indices of species centrality to measure their importance in the contaminant diffusion via feeding links. The analysis of the Adriatic sea case study suggests that our framework could represent a practical tool in the design of effective remediation strategies, providing at the same time insights into the ecological role of microbial communities within food webs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)-
    JournalFrontiers in Genetics
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2014


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