Beyond The Blueprint: Development Of Genome-Informed Trait-Based Models For Prediction Of Microbial Dynamics And Biogeochemical Rates

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Eoin Brodie1,2, Eric King1, Sergi Molins1, Ulas Karaoz1, Jeffrey N Johnson1, Nicholas Bouskill1, Laura A Hug2, Brian C Thomas2, Cindy J Castelle2, Harry R Beller1, Jillian F Banfield1,2 and Carl I Steefel1, (1)Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States
In soils and sediments microorganisms perform essential ecosystem services through their roles in regulating the stability of carbon and the flux of nutrients, and the purification of water. But these are complex systems with the physical, chemical and biological components all intimately connected. Components of this complexity are gradually being uncovered and our understanding of the extent of microbial functional diversity in particular has been enhanced greatly with the development of cultivation independent approaches. However we have not moved far beyond a descriptive and correlative use of this powerful resource. As the ability to reconstruct thousands of genomes from microbial populations using metagenomic techniques gains momentum, the challenge will be to develop an understanding of how these metabolic blueprints serve to influence the fitness of organisms within these complex systems and how populations emerge and impact the physical and chemical properties of their environment.

In the presentation we will discuss the development of a trait-based model of microbial activity that simulates coupled guilds of microorganisms that are parameterized including traits extracted from large-scale metagenomic data. Using a reactive transport framework we simulate the thermodynamics of coupled electron donor and acceptor reactions to predict the energy available for respiration, biomass development and exo-enzyme production. Each group within a functional guild is parameterized with a unique combination of traits governing organism fitness under dynamic environmental conditions. This presentation will address our latest developments in the estimation of trait values related to growth rate and the identification and linkage of key fitness traits associated with respiratory and fermentative pathways, macromolecule depolymerization enzymes and nitrogen fixation from metagenomic data. We are testing model sensitivity to initial microbial composition and intra-guild trait variability amongst other parameters and are using this model to explore abiotic controls on community emergence and impact on rates of reactions that contribute to the cycling of carbon across biogeochemical gradients from the soil to the subsurface.