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This work presents mathematical and computational approaches to cover various aspects of metabolic network modelling, especially regarding the limited availability of detailed kinetic knowledge on reaction rates. It is shown that precise mathematical formulations of problems are needed i) to find appropriate and, if possible, efficient algorithms to solve them, and ii) to determine the quality of the found approximate solutions. Furthermore, some means are introduced to gain insights on dynamic properties of metabolic networks either directly from the network structure or by additionally incorporating steady-state information. Finally, an approach to identify key reactions in a metabolic networks is introduced, which helps to develop simple yet useful kinetic models. The rise of novel techniques renders genome sequencing increasingly fast and cheap. In the near future, this will allow to analyze biological networks not only for species but also for individuals. Hence, automatic reconstruction of metabolic networks provides itself as a means for evaluating this huge amount of experimental data. A mathematical formulation as an optimization problem is presented, taking into account existing knowledge and experimental data as well as the probabilistic predictions of various bioinformatical methods. The reconstructed networks are optimized for having large connected components of high accuracy, hence avoiding fragmentation into small isolated subnetworks. The usefulness of this formalism is exemplified on the reconstruction of the sucrose biosynthesis pathway in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The problem is shown to be computationally demanding and therefore necessitates efficient approximation algorithms. The problem of minimal nutrient requirements for genome-scale metabolic networks is analyzed. Given a metabolic network and a set of target metabolites, the inverse scope problem has as it objective determining a minimal set of metabolites that have to be provided in order to produce the target metabolites. These target metabolites might stem from experimental measurements and therefore are known to be produced by the metabolic network under study, or are given as the desired end-products of a biotechological application. The inverse scope problem is shown to be computationally hard to solve. However, I assume that the complexity strongly depends on the number of directed cycles within the metabolic network. This might guide the development of efficient approximation algorithms. Assuming mass-action kinetics, chemical reaction network theory (CRNT) allows for eliciting conclusions about multistability directly from the structure of metabolic networks. Although CRNT is based on mass-action kinetics originally, it is shown how to incorporate further reaction schemes by emulating molecular enzyme mechanisms. CRNT is used to compare several models of the Calvin cycle, which differ in size and level of abstraction. Definite results are obtained for small models, but the available set of theorems and algorithms provided by CRNT can not be applied to larger models due to the computational limitations of the currently available implementations of the provided algorithms. Given the stoichiometry of a metabolic network together with steady-state fluxes and concentrations, structural kinetic modelling allows to analyze the dynamic behavior of the metabolic network, even if the explicit rate equations are not known. In particular, this sampling approach is used to study the stabilizing effects of allosteric regulation in a model of human erythrocytes. Furthermore, the reactions of that model can be ranked according to their impact on stability of the steady state. The most important reactions in that respect are identified as hexokinase, phosphofructokinase and pyruvate kinase, which are known to be highly regulated and almost irreversible. Kinetic modelling approaches using standard rate equations are compared and evaluated against reference models for erythrocytes and hepatocytes. The results from this simplified kinetic models can simulate acceptably the temporal behavior for small changes around a given steady state, but fail to capture important characteristics for larger changes. The aforementioned approach to rank reactions according to their influence on stability is used to identify a small number of key reactions. These reactions are modelled in detail, including knowledge about allosteric regulation, while all other reactions were still described by simplified reaction rates. These so-called hybrid models can capture the characteristics of the reference models significantly better than the simplified models alone. The resulting hybrid models might serve as a good starting point for kinetic modelling of genome-scale metabolic networks, as they provide reasonable results in the absence of experimental data, regarding, for instance, allosteric regulations, for a vast majority of enzymatic reactions.

Mathematical modeling of biological systems is a powerful tool to systematically investigate the functions of biological processes and their relationship with the environment. To obtain accurate and biologically interpretable predictions, a modeling framework has to be devised whose assumptions best approximate the examined scenario and which copes with the trade-off of complexity of the underlying mathematical description: with attention to detail or high coverage. Correspondingly, the system can be examined in detail on a smaller scale or in a simplified manner on a larger scale. In this thesis, the role of photosynthesis and its related biochemical processes in the context of plant metabolism was dissected by employing modeling approaches ranging from kinetic to stoichiometric models. The Calvin-Benson cycle, as primary pathway of carbon fixation in C3 plants, is the initial step for producing starch and sucrose, necessary for plant growth. Based on an integrative analysis for model ranking applied on the largest compendium of (kinetic) models for the Calvin-Benson cycle, those suitable for development of metabolic engineering strategies were identified. Driven by the question why starch rather than sucrose is the predominant transitory carbon storage in higher plants, the metabolic costs for their synthesis were examined. The incorporation of the maintenance costs for the involved enzymes provided a model-based support for the preference of starch as transitory carbon storage, by only exploiting the stoichiometry of synthesis pathways. Many photosynthetic organisms have to cope with processes which compete with carbon fixation, such as photorespiration whose impact on plant metabolism is still controversial. A systematic model-oriented review provided a detailed assessment for the role of this pathway in inhibiting the rate of carbon fixation, bridging carbon and nitrogen metabolism, shaping the C1 metabolism, and influencing redox signal transduction. The demand of understanding photosynthesis in its metabolic context calls for the examination of the related processes of the primary carbon metabolism. To this end, the Arabidopsis core model was assembled via a bottom-up approach. This large-scale model can be used to simulate photoautotrophic biomass production, as an indicator for plant growth, under so-called optimal, carbon-limiting and nitrogen-limiting growth conditions. Finally, the introduced model was employed to investigate the effects of the environment, in particular, nitrogen, carbon and energy sources, on the metabolic behavior. This resulted in a purely stoichiometry-based explanation for the experimental evidence for preferred simultaneous acquisition of nitrogen in both forms, as nitrate and ammonium, for optimal growth in various plant species. The findings presented in this thesis provide new insights into plant system's behavior, further support existing opinions for which mounting experimental evidences arise, and posit novel hypotheses for further directed large-scale experiments.