Metabolic models to investigate energy limited anaerobic ecosystems

Giuliano Premier, Jorge Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Alan Guwy, Richard Dinsdale, R. Kleerebezem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anaerobic wastewater treatment is shifting from a philosophy of solely pollutants removal to a philosophy of combined resource recovery and waste treatment. Simultaneous wastewater treatment with energy recovery in the form of energy rich products, brings renewed interest to non-methanogenic anaerobic bioprocesses such as the anaerobic production of hydrogen, ethanol, solvents, VFAs, bioplastics and even electricity from microbial fuel cells. The existing kinetic-based modelling approaches, widely used in aerobic and methanogenic wastewater treatement processes, do not seem adequate in investing such energy limited microbial ecosystems. The great diversity of similar microbial species, which share many of the fermentive reaction pathways, makes quantify microbial groups very difficult and causes identifiability problems. A modelling approach based on the consideration of metabolic reaction networks instead of on separated microbial groups is suggested as an alternative to describe anaerobic microbial ecosystems and in particular for the prediction of product formation as a function of environmental conditions imposed. The limited number of existing relevant fermentative pathways in conjunction with the fact that anaerobic reactions proceed very close to thermodynamic equilibrium reduces the complexity of such approach and the degrees of freedom in terms of product formation fluxes. In addition, energy limitation in these anaerobic microbial ecosystems makes plausible that selective forces associated with energy further define the system activity by favouring those conversions/micro-organisms which provide the most energy for growth under the conditions imposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1669 - 1675
Number of pages6
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • anaerobic bioprocesses
  • anaerobic digestion
  • energy limited ecosystems
  • metabolic modelling
  • modelling


Dive into the research topics of 'Metabolic models to investigate energy limited anaerobic ecosystems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this