Flux Balance Analysis of Escherichia coli under Temperature and pH Stress Conditions

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


An interesting discovery in biology is that most genes in an organism are dispensable. That means these genes have minor effects on survival of the organism in standard laboratory conditions. One explanation of this discovery is that some genes play important roles in specific conditions and are essential genes under those conditions. E. coli is a model organism, which is widely used. It can adapt to many stress conditions, including temperature, pH, osmotic, antibiotic, etc. Underlying mechanisms and associated genes of each stress condition responses are usually different. In our analysis, we combined protein abundance data and mutant conditional fitness data into E. coli constraint-based metabolic models to study conditionally essential metabolic genes under temperature and pH stress conditions. Flux Balance Analysis was employed as the modeling method to analysis these data. We discovered lists of metabolic genes, which are E. coli dispensable genes, but conditionally essential under some stress conditions. Among these conditionally essential genes, atpA in low pH stress and nhaA in high pH stress found experimental evidences from previous studies. Our study provides new conditionally essential gene candidates for biologists to explore stress condition mechanisms.
Date of AwardMay 12 2015
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorXin Gao (Supervisor)


  • flux balance analysis
  • stress condition
  • Metabolic modeling
  • flux variability analysis

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