Defining the nutritional input for genome-scale metabolic models: A roadmap.
The reconstruction and application of genome-scale metabolic network models is a central topic in the field of systems biology with numerous applications in biotechnology, ecology, and medicine. However, there is no agreed upon standard for the definition of the nutritional environment for these models. The objective of this article is to provide a guideline and a clear paradigm on how to translate nutritional information into an in-silico representation of the chemical environment. Step-by-step procedures explain how to characterise and categorise the nutritional input and to successfully apply it to constraint-based metabolic models. In parallel, we illustrate the proposed procedure with a case study of the growth of Escherichia coli in a complex nutritional medium and show that an accurate representation of the medium is crucial for physiological predictions. The proposed framework will assist researchers to expand their existing metabolic models of their microbial systems of interest with detailed representations of the nutritional environment, which allows more accurate and reproducible predictions of microbial metabolic processes.