OptForce – A New Method to Enhanced Production of Valuable Metabolic Products

The Science

The holy grail of metabolic (bio)engineering is to trick an organism into overproducing one particular metabolic product, for example, the production of ethanol through a fermentation pathway in a microbe such as Bacillus subtilis. However, optimizing just one metabolic pathway is not sufficient, since metabolic pathways are interconnected in an organism’s physiology through a dynamic set of processes. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have introduced a new method, OptForce, that will identify all possible metabolic pathways in an organism that are supported by existing experimental data, and provide a collective set of genetic changes that must be imparted on the organism to achieve a target level of product. This method will not only translate predictive metabolic pathways into quantifiable levels of products produced by an organism, but will also show where inadequate experimental data limits progress in optimizing output of desired products.


Ranganathan, S., P. Suthers and C. Maranas. 2010. “OptForce: An Optimization Procedure for Identifying all Genetic Manipulations Leading to Targeted Overproductions,” PLoS Computational Biology 6(4), 1-11. DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000744.