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Testing scientific theories using conceptual models: enzymatic degradation as a case-in-point example

graph from the qualitative simulation
To facilitate the capture and computation of scientific domain knowledge, we proposed a method for assessing and integrating published scientific models.

The literature review, which fundamental to natural science, is getting more and more difficult for domain specialists due to the inexorable inflation of scientific papers. To facilitate the capture and computation of scientific domain knowledge, we proposed a method for assessing and integrating published scientific models. The method has been applied to understanding the mechanism limiting the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose, which is pivotal to research in a number of domains, including the production of biofuels. 

We applied our model to test assess two published kinetic models which are thought to explain the rate-limited hydrolysis of cellulose—one involving the processive saturation of enzyme-hydrolyzable cellulose surface, and one involving the presence of obstacles at the cellulose substrate surface disrupting and ‘stalling’ the enzymes. We showed that neither of the two models can fully explain all the target behaviors, whereas a third model integrating the first two is able to explain all the target behaviors.


INRA FARE Reims (Caroline Rémond, Gabriel Paës, Jean Tayeb) 

Informatics Institute of University of Amsterdam (Bert Bredeweg)


Kansou K., C. Rémond, G. Paës, E. Bonnin, J. Tayeb, B. Bredeweg. (2017). Testing scientific models using Qualitative Reasoning: Application to cellulose hydrolysis. Scientific reports, 7, 14122. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14281-4