Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Stephen Fong


Metabolic engineering of microorganisms for chemical production involves the coordination of regulatory, kinetic, and thermodynamic parameters within the context of the entire network, as well as the careful allocation of energetic and structural resources such as ATP, redox potential, and amino acids. The exponential progression of “omics” technologies over the past few decades has transformed our ability to understand these network interactions by generating enormous amounts of data about cell behavior. The great challenge of the new biological era is in processing, integrating, and rationally interpreting all of this information, leading to testable hypotheses. In silico metabolic reconstructions are versatile computational tools for integrating multiple levels of bioinformatics data, facilitating interpretation of that data, and making functional predictions related to the metabolic behavior of the cell. To explore the use of this modeling paradigm as a tool for enabling metabolic engineering in a poorly understood microorganism, an in silico constraint-based metabolic reconstruction for the anaerobic, cellulolytic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum was constructed based on available genome annotations, published phenotypic information, and specific biochemical assays. This dissertation describes the analysis and experimental validation of this model, the integration of transcriptomic data from an RNAseq experiment, and the use of the resulting model for generating novel strain designs for significantly improved production of ethanol from cellulosic biomass. The genome-scale metabolic reconstruction is shown to be a powerful framework for understanding and predicting various metabolic phenotypes, and contributions described here enhance the utility of these models for interpretation of experimental datasets for successful metabolic engineering.


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Is Part Of

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Date of Submission

August 2011

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Engineering Commons