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Duke University scientists say they have created a framework for helping bioengineers determine when to use multiple lines of cells to manufacture a product. Their study (“ Metabolic division of labor in microbial systems ”), published in PNAS, could help a variety of industries that use bacteria to produce chemicals ranging from pharmaceuticals to fragrances, according to the researchers. “Metabolic pathways are often engineered in single microbial populations. However, the introduction of heterologous circuits into the host can create a substantial metabolic burden that limits the overall productivity of the system. This limitation could be overcome by metabolic division of labor (DOL), whereby distinct populations perform different steps in a metabolic pathway, reducing the burden each population will experience. While conceptually appealing, the conditions when DOL is advantageous have not been rigorously established,” write the investigators. “Here, we have analyzed 24 common architectures of metabolic pathways in which DOL ...
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