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[Nature Microbiology] A stabilized microbial ecosystem of self-limiting bacteria using synthetic quo


Microbial ecologists are increasingly turning to small, synthesized ecosystems1,​2,​3,​4,​5 as a reductionist tool to probe the complexity of native microbiomes6,7. Concurrently, synthetic biologists have gone from single-cell gene circuits8,​9,​10,​11 to controlling whole populations using intercellular signalling12,​13,​14,​15,​16. The intersection of these fields is giving rise to new approaches in waste recycling17, industrial fermentation18, bioremediation19 and human health16,20. These applications share a common challenge7 well-known in classical ecology21,22—stability of an ecosystem cannot arise without mechanisms that prohibit the faster-growing species from eliminating the slower. Here, we combine orthogonal quorum-sensing systems and a population control circuit with diverse self-limiting growth dynamics to engineer two ‘ortholysis’ circuits capable of maintaining a stable co-culture of metabolically competitive Salmonella typhimurium strains in microfluidic devices. Although no successful co-cultures are observed in a two-strain ecology without synthetic population control, the ‘ortholysis’ design dramatically increases the co-culture rate from 0% to approximately 80%. Agent-based and deterministic modelling reveal that our system can be adjusted to yield different dynamics, including phase-shifted, antiphase or synchronized oscillations, as well as stable steady-state population densities. The ‘ortholysis’ approach establishes a paradigm for constructing synthetic ecologies by developing stable communities of competitive microorganisms without the need for engineered co-dependency.

Spencer R. Scott, M. Omar Din, Philip Bittihn, Liyang Xiong, Lev S. Tsimring & Jeff Hasty Nature Microbiology 2, Article number: 17083 (2017) doi:10.1038/nmicrobiol.2017.83

Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/nmicrobiol201783

#06172017 #microbiology #labonachip

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