For more than a decade, researchers have been trying to create accurate computer models of Escherichia coli (E. coli), a bacterium that makes headlines for its varied roles in food poisoning, drug manufacture and biological research.
Photomicrograph of E. coli.
Credit: Image courtesy of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
By combining laboratory data with recently completed genetic databases, researchers can craft digital colonies of organisms that mimic, and even predict, some behaviors of living cells to an accuracy of about 75 percent.
Now, NSF-supported researchers at the University of California at San Diego have created a computer model that accurately predicts how E. coli metabolic systems adapt and evolve when the bacteria are placed under environmental constraints. Bernhard Palsson, Rafael Ibarra (now at GenVault Corporation in Carlsbad, California) and Jeremy Edwards (now at the University of Delaware at Newark) report their findings in the November 14 issue of Nature.
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