Moritz Bieber, Christian Lieven (Biosustain, DTU), Brett Olivier and Bas Teusink (AIMMS, VU Amsterdam) and a worldwide community of scientists developed quality control tools for systems biology models in Nature Biotechnology
Mathematical models are key tool to
understand complex biological systems. In particular, constraint-based, genome
scale, models (GSM’s) can relate the physiological property of a cells, such as
growth and metabolism, to the chemical flows through the underlying metabolic
reaction network encoded by the genes. However, each model can in itself
contain thousands of components. Moreover there is a continuous increase in
number of these models being produced, using various semi-automated methods.
The question arises, how do you evaluate a models quality? Being able to answer
this question is critical to a model’s reproducibility and reusability.
In a recent correspondence published in Nature Biotechnology Moritz Bieber, Christian Lieven (Biosustain, DTU) and a large, worldwide community of scientists including Brett Olivier and Bas Teusink (AIMMS, VU Amsterdam) set out to address this problem. The tool presented in this contribution, MEMOTE, leverages the advantages of the latest community developed model encoding standards (SBML FBC), and implements a pipeline containing a set of tests that evaluates a model’s annotation, basic functionality and conceptual integrity. Hopefully, this will lead to a more efficient (re)use of genome-scale models in research and biotechnology.
Modelling standards and systems biology, you hear a lot of talk about both these topics. But what would it mean if modellers and software engineers actually started using them. In the latest special issue of ERCIM news dealing with “Big Data” Brett and Bas take a look at an idealized day in the life of a computational systems biologist.
Constraint-based modelling is a popular methodology used in systems biology whose stock in trade is the genome-scale model. However an ongoing problem in this field is that no formal standard exists for encoding such models. Brett Olivier together with Frank Bergmann have led the development of an extension to the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML), a widely used format for encoding and exchanging mathematical models, that for the first time allows these models to be encoded and annotated in a standard way.