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BMC Systems Biology

, 10:102

Networks and information flow


BackgroundDuring the last decades, we face an increasing interest in superior plants to supply growing demands for human and animal nutrition and for the developing bio-based economy. Presently, our limited understanding of their metabolism and its regulation hampers the targeted development of desired plant phenotypes. In this regard, systems biology, in particular the integration of metabolic and regulatory networks, is promising to broaden our knowledge and to further explore the biotechnological potential of plants.

ResultsThe thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana provides an ideal model to understand plant primary metabolism. To obtain insight into its functional properties, we constructed a large-scale metabolic network of the leaf of A. thaliana. It represented 511 reactions with spatial separation into compartments. Systematic analysis of this network, utilizing elementary flux modes, investigates metabolic capabilities of the plant and predicts relevant properties on the systems level: optimum pathway use for maximum growth and flux re-arrangement in response to environmental perturbation. Our computational model indicates that the A. thaliana leaf operates near its theoretical optimum flux state in the light, however, only in a narrow range of photon usage. The simulations further demonstrate that the natural day-night shift requires substantial re-arrangement of pathway flux between compartments: 89 reactions, involving redox and energy metabolism, substantially change the extent of flux, whereas 19 reactions even invert flux direction. The optimum set of anabolic pathways differs between day and night and is partly shifted between compartments. The integration with experimental transcriptome data pinpoints selected transcriptional changes that mediate the diurnal adaptation of the plant and superimpose the flux response.

ConclusionsThe successful application of predictive modelling in Arabidopsis thaliana can bring systems-biological interpretation of plant systems forward. Using the gained knowledge, metabolic engineering strategies to engage plants as biotechnological factories can be developed.

KeywordsElementary flux modes Arabidopsis Day-night shift In vivo In silico Electron flow Transcriptome Fluxome Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12918-016-0347-3 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Veronique Beckers - Lisa Maria Dersch - Katrin Lotz - Guido Melzer - Oliver Ernst Bläsing - Regine Fuchs - Thomas Ehrhar


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