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Optimizing cultivation of Cordyceps militaris for fast growth and cordycepin overproduction using rational design of synthetic media

Journal article
Authors N. Raethong
Hao Wang
J. Nielsen
W. Vongsangnak
Published in Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
Volume 18
Pages 1-8
ISSN 2001-0370
Publication year 2020
Published at Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine
Pages 1-8
Language en
Subject categories Medical Biotechnology


Cordyceps militaris is an entomopathogenic fungus which is often used in Asia as a traditional medicine developed from age-old wisdom. Presently, cordycepin from C. militaris is a great interest in medicinal applications. However, cellular growth of C. militaris and the association with cordycepin production remain poorly understood. To explore the metabolism of C. militaris as potential cell factories in medical and biotechnology applications, this study developed a high-quality genome-scale metabolic model of C. militaris, iNR1329, based on its genomic content and physiological data. The model included a total of 1329 genes, 1821 biochemical reactions, and 1171 metabolites among 4 different cellular compartments. Its in silico growth simulation results agreed well with experimental data on different carbon sources. iNR1329 was further used for optimizing the growth and cordycepin overproduction using a novel approach, POPCORN, for rational design of synthetic media. In addition to the high-quality GEM iNR1329, the presented POPCORN approach was successfully used to rationally design an optimal synthetic medium with C:N ratio of 8:1 for enhancing 3.5-fold increase in cordycepin production. This study thus provides a novel insight into C. militaris physiology and highlights a potential GEM-driven method for synthetic media design and metabolic engineering application. The iNR1329 and the POPCORN approach are available at the GitHub repository:

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