Microbiologyopen. 2022 Oct;11(5):e1324. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.1324.
Microbial cocultures are used as a tool to stimulate natural product biosynthesis. However, studies often empirically combine different organisms without a deeper understanding of the population dynamics. As filamentous organisms offer a vast metabolic diversity, we developed a model filamentous coculture of the cellulolytic fungus Trichoderma reesei RUT-C30 and the noncellulolytic bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). The coculture was set up to use α-cellulose as a carbon source. This established a dependency of S. coelicolor on hydrolysate sugars released by T. reesei cellulases. To provide detailed insight into coculture dynamics, we applied high-throughput online monitoring of the respiration rate and fluorescence of the tagged strains. The respiration rate allowed us to distinguish the conditions of successful cellulase formation. Furthermore, to dissect the individual strain contributions, T. reesei and S. coelicolor were tagged with mCherry and mNeonGreen (mNG) fluorescence proteins, respectively. When evaluating varying inoculation ratios, it was observed that both partners outcompete the other when given a high inoculation advantage. Nonetheless, adequate proportions for simultaneous growth of both partners, cellulase, and pigment production could be determined. Finally, population dynamics were also tuned by modulating abiotic factors. Increased osmolality provided a growth advantage to S. coelicolor. In contrast, an increase in shaking frequency had a negative effect on S. coelicolor biomass formation, promoting T. reesei. This comprehensive analysis fills important knowledge gaps in the control of complex cocultures and accelerates the setup of other tailor-made coculture bioprocesses.