Metabolic networks evolve towards states of maximum entropy production

Pornkamol Unrean, Friedrich Srienc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

A metabolic network can be described by a set of elementary modes or pathways representing discrete metabolic states that support cell function. We have recently shown that in the most likely metabolic state the usage probability of individual elementary modes is distributed according to the Boltzmann distribution law while complying with the principle of maximum entropy production. To demonstrate that a metabolic network evolves towards such state we have carried out adaptive evolution experiments with Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum operating with a reduced metabolic functionality based on a reduced set of elementary modes. In such reduced metabolic network metabolic fluxes can be conveniently computed from the measured metabolite secretion pattern. Over a time span of 300 generations the specific growth rate of the strain continuously increased together with a continuous increase in the rate of entropy production. We show that the rate of entropy production asymptotically approaches the maximum entropy production rate predicted from the state when the usage probability of individual elementary modes is distributed according to the Boltzmann distribution. Therefore, the outcome of evolution of a complex biological system can be predicted in highly quantitative terms using basic statistical mechanical principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-673
Number of pages8
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant no. GM077529 , Mascoma Corp. and IREE for support, and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) for using their resources.

Keywords

  • Boltzmann distribution law
  • Elementary Mode Analysis
  • Entropy
  • Metabolic evolution

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