Microbial strain optimization focuses on improving technological properties of the strain of microorganisms. However, the complexities of the metabolic networks, which lead to data ambiguity, often cause genetic modification on the desirable phenotypes difficult to predict. Furthermore, vast number of reactions in cellular metabolism lead to the combinatorial problem in obtaining optimal gene deletion strategy. Consequently, the computation time increases exponentially with the increase in the size of the problem. Hence, we propose an extension of a hybrid of Bees Algorithm and Flux Balance Analysis (BAFBA) by integrating OptKnock into BAFBA to validate the result. This paper presents a number of computational experiments to test on the performance and capability of BAFBA. Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and Clostridium thermocellum are the model organisms in this paper. Also included is the identification of potential reactions to improve the production of succinic acid, lactic acid and ethanol, plus the discussion on the changes in the flux distribution of the predicted mutants. BAFBA shows potential in suggesting the non-intuitive gene knockout strategies and a low variability among the several runs. The results show that BAFBA is suitable, reliable and applicable in predicting optimal gene knockout strategy.
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