Timothy Paez Watson

Metabolic control leading to the PAO phenotype


Survival in dynamic environments represents a major challenge to organisms. They have to adapt to constant changes in their environment (i.e. changes in temperature, pH, and substrate availability) while competing with other organisms in their near proximity. Some organisms have developed the interesting trait to rapidly uptake substrate when it is abundant to use later when there is a shortage of it.

This specific trait is of great interest in biotechnology, and has been exploited to be used in waste water treatment, specifically in phosphate removal. The organisms used for biological phosphate removal are named PAOs (Phosphate Accumulating Organisms).

Problem and focus

Despite the broad scientific knowledge generated from PAO enrichments over time, the metabolism and metabolic control that leads to its phenotype is yet poorly understood. This project combines experimental work with metabolic modeling to study the key metabolic features leading to PAOs phenotype. 

Techniques and tools

• Modelling and dynamic flux balance analysis of energy allocation models in open culture systems.

• Open culture enrichment and process characterization. 

• FISH and DNA sequence characterization of microbial communities.

• Whole proteome measurements and data integration into metabolic models.

• Targeted and untargeted metabolomics measurements under dynamic conditions. 

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