Metabolic acclimation to photosynthesis-associated stresses was examined in the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus
BP-1 using integrated computational and photobioreactor analyses. A genome-enabled metabolic model, complete with measured biomass composition, was analyzed using ecological resource allocation theory to predict and interpret metabolic acclimation to irradiance, O2
, and nutrient stresses. Reduced growth efficiency, shifts in photosystem utilization, changes in photorespiration strategies, and differing byproduct secretion patterns were predicted to occur along culturing stress gradients. These predictions were compared with photobioreactor physiological data and previously published transcriptomic data and found to be highly consistent with observations, providing a systems-based rationale for the culture phenotypes. The analysis also indicated that cyanobacterial stress acclimation strategies created niches for heterotrophic organisms and that heterotrophic activity could enhance cyanobacterial stress tolerance by removing inhibitory metabolic byproducts. This study provides mechanistic insight into stress acclimation strategies in photoautotrophs and establishes a framework for predicting, designing, and engineering both axenic and photoautotrophic-heterotrophic systems as a function of controllable parameters.
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