158 Scopus citations


During microbial applications, metabolic burdens can lead to a significant drop in cell performance. Novel synthetic biology tools or multi-step bioprocessing (e.g., fermentation followed by chemical conversions) are therefore needed to avoid compromised biochemical productivity from over-burdened cells. A possible solution to address metabolic burden is Division of Labor (DoL) via natural and synthetic microbial consortia. In particular, consolidated bioprocesses and metabolic cooperation for detoxification or cross feeding (e.g., vitamin C fermentation) have shown numerous successes in industrial level applications. However, distributing a metabolic pathway among proper hosts remains an engineering conundrum due to several challenges: complex subpopulation dynamics/interactions with a short time-window for stable production, suboptimal cultivation of microbial communities, proliferation of cheaters or low-producers, intermediate metabolite dilution, transport barriers between species, and breaks in metabolite channeling through biosynthesis pathways. To develop stable consortia, optimization of strain inoculations, nutritional divergence and crossing feeding, evolution of mutualistic growth, cell immobilization, and biosensors may potentially be used to control cell populations. Another opportunity is direct integration of non-bioprocesses (e.g., microbial electrosynthesis) to power cell metabolism and improve carbon efficiency. Additionally, metabolic modeling and 13 C-metabolic flux analysis of mixed culture metabolism and cross-feeding offers a computational approach to complement experimental research for improved consortia performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 8 2019


  • C-metabolic flux analysis
  • Cross-feeding
  • Metabolite channeling
  • Reporter protein
  • Subpopulations


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