Measuring Cellular Metabolism in Microbial Communities

Friday, October 13, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Maciek R. Antoniewicz

Centennial (Endowed) Full Professor

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

University of Delaware

Measuring Cellular Metabolism in Microbial Communities


Measuring intracellular fluxes by 13C metabolic flux analysis (13C-MFA) has become a key activity in metabolic engineering, biotechnology and medicine. Here, I will present several important new advances in 13C-MFA that have extended the scope of this technology to more complex biological systems. Specifically, I will demonstrate a new approach that we have developed for elucidating syntrophy in microbial communities. Syntrophy (or cross-feeding) is the co-existence of two or more microbes whereby one feeds off the products of the other. To dissect such interactions in complex communities we have developed a multi-scale 13C-flux modeling approach that allows us, for the first time, to quantify metabolism, metabolite cross-feeding, and population dynamics.

Overall, the methods we have developed for studying microbial communities have opened new areas of investigations, allowing us to dissect complex systems that are of significant importance in biology, but cannot be investigated with current tools. More broadly, by better understanding syntrophic relationships at the genetic, molecular, cellular, and systems levels we are generating new knowledge on microbial syntrophy that enables us to ensemble synergistic interactions in engineered microbial communities for future applications in biotechnology and medicine.


Dr. Maciek R. Antoniewicz is the Centennial (Endowed) Full Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. Dr. Antoniewicz earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Delft University of Technology (2000), and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2006). After graduating he performed post-doctoral research at DuPont Company. Dr. Antoniewicz started as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013. In 2016, he was appointed as the Centennial (Endowed) Full Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Dr. Antoniewicz is an expert and a pioneer in the field of 13C-metabolic flux analysis (13C-MFA). He has received many international awards for his research on metabolic flux analysis, including the DuPont Young Professor Award (2008), the James E. Bailey Young Investigator Award in Metabolic Engineering (2008), the NSF CAREER Award (2011), and Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang Award (1015). His current interests are in parallel labeling experiments, dynamic metabolic flux analysis, analysis of compartment-specific fluxes in eukaryotic cells, and analysis of syntrophic interactions in microbial communities.