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Predictive evolution of metabolic phenotypes using model-designed selection niches

By Paula Jouhten, Dimitrios Konstantinidis, Filipa Pereira, Sergej Andrejev, Kristina Grkovska, Payam Ghiaci, Gemma Beltran, Eivind Almaas, Albert Mas, Jonas Warringer, Ramon Gonzalez, Pilar Morales, Kiran Raosaheb Patil

Posted 16 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.14.443989

Traits lacking fitness benefit cannot be directly selected for under Darwinian evolution. Thus, features such as metabolite secretion are currently inaccessible to adaptive laboratory evolution. Here, we utilize environment-dependency of trait correlations to enable Darwinian selection of fitness-neutral or costly traits. We use metabolic models to design selection niches and to identify surrogate traits that are genetically correlated with cell fitness in the selection niche but coupled to the desired trait in the target niche. Adaptive evolution in the selection niche and subsequent return to the target niche is thereby predicted to enhance the desired trait. We experimentally validate the theory by evolving Saccharomyces cerevisiae for increased secretion of aroma compounds in wine fermentation. Genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic changes in the evolved strains confirmed the predicted flux re-routing to aroma biosynthesis. The use of model-designed selection niches facilitates the predictive evolution of fitness-costly traits for ecological and biotechnological applications.

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