Installation and Materials

This tutorial will show you how to get PSAMM up and running on your computer, how to work with the PSAMM YAML format, how to import published models into PSAMM, and how to apply the main tools included with PSAMM to your models.

Downloading the PSAMM Tutorial Data

The PSAMM tutorial materials are available in the psamm-tutorial GitHub repository

These files can be downloaded using the following command:

$ git clone

This will create a directory named psamm-tutorial in your current working folder. You can then navigate to this directory using the following command:

$ cd psamm-tutorial

Now you should be in the psamm-tutorial folder and should see the following folders:


These directories include all of the files that will be needed to run the tutorial.

PSAMM Installation

PSAMM can be installed using the Python package installer pip. We recommend that all installations be performed under a virtual Python environment. Major programs and dependencies include: psamm-model, which supports model checking, model simulation, and model exports; Linear programming (LP) solvers (e.g. CPLEX, Gurobi, QSopt_ex), which provide the solution of linear programming problems; psamm-import, which supports the import of models from SBML, JSON, and Excel formats.

Setting up a Virtual Python Environment

It is recommended that the PSAMM software and dependencies should be installed under a virtual Python environment. This can be done by using the Virtualenv software. Virtualenv will set up a Python environment that permits you to install Python packages in a local directory that will not interfere with other programs in the global Python. The virtual environment can be set up at any local directory that you have write permission to. For example, here we will set up the virtual environment under the main directory of this PSAMM tutorial. First, run the following command if you are not in the psamm-tutorial folder:

$ cd <PATH>/psamm-tutorial

In this command, <PATH> should be substituted by the directory path to where you created the psamm-tutorial. This will change your current directory to the psamm-tutorial directory. Then, you can create a virtual environment in the psamm-tutorial directory:

$ virtualenv psamm-env

That will set up the virtual environment in a folder called psamm-env/. The next step is to activate the virtual environment so that the Python that is being used will be the one that is in the virtualenv. To do this use the following command:

$ source psamm-env/bin/activate

This will change your command prompt to the following:

(psamm-env) $

This indicates that the virtual environment is activated, and any installation of Python packages will now be installed in the virtual environment. It is important to note that when you leave the environment and return at a later time, you will have to reactivate the environment (use the source command above) to be able to use any packages installed in it.


For Windows users, the virtual environment is installed in a different file structure. The activate script on these systems will reside in a Scripts folder. To activate the environment on these systems use the command:

> psamm-env\Scripts\activate


After activating the environment, the command pip list can be used to quickly get an overview of the packages installed in the environment and the version of each package.

Installation of psamm-model and psamm-import

The next step will be to install psamm-model and psamm-import as well as their requirements. To do this, you can use the Python Package Installer, pip. To install both psamm-import and psamm-model you can use the following command:

(psamm-env) $ pip install git+

This will install psamm-import from its Git repository and also install its Python dependencies automatically. One of these dependencies is psamm-model, so when psamm-import is installed you will also be installing psamm-model.

If you only want to install psamm-model in the environment you can run the following command:

(psamm-env) $ pip install psamm

It is important to note that if only psamm-model is installed you will be able to apply PSAMM only on models that are represented in the YAML format which will be described later on in the tutorial.

Installation of LP Solvers

The LP (linear programming) solvers are necessary for analysis of metabolic fluxes using the constraint-based modeling approaches.

CPLEX is the recommended solver for PSAMM and is available with an academic license from IBM. Make sure that you use at least CPLEX version 12.6. Instructions on how to install CPLEX can be found here.

Once CPLEX is installed, you need to install the Python bindings under the psamm-env virtual environment using the following command:

(psamm-env) $ pip install <PATH>/IBM/ILOG/CPLEX_Studio<XXX>/cplex/python/<python_version>/<platform>

The directory path in the above command should be replaced with the path to the IBM CPLEX installation in your computer. This will install the Python bindings for CPLEX into the virtual environment.


While the CPLEX software will be installed globally, the Python bindings should be installed specifically under the virtual environment with the PSAMM installation.

PSAMM also supports the use of two other linear programming solvers, Gurobi and QSopt_ex. To install the Gurobi solver, Gurobi will first need to be installed on your computer. Gurobi can be obtained with an academic license from here: Gurobi

Once Gurobi is installed the Python bindings will need to be installed in the virtual environment by using pip to install them from the package directory. An example of how this could be done on a macOS is (on other platforms the path will be different):

(psamm-env) $ pip install /Library/gurobi604/mac64/

The QSopt_ex solver can also be used with PSAMM. To install this solver you will first need to install Qsopt_ex on your computer and afterwards the Python bindings (python-qsoptex) can be installed in the virtual environment:

(psamm-env) $ pip install python-qsoptex

Please see the python-qsoptex documentation for more information on installing both the library and the Python bindings.


The QSopt_ex solver does not support Integer LP problems and as a result cannot be used to perform flux analysis with thermodynamic constraints. If this solver is used thermodynamic constraints cannot be used during simulation. By default psamm-model will not use these constraints.

Once a solver is installed you should now be able to fully use all of the psamm-model flux analysis functions. To see a list of the installed solvers the use the psamm-list-lpsolvers command:

(psamm-env) $ psamm-list-lpsolvers

You will see the details on what solvers are installed currently and avaliable to PSAMM. For example if the Gurobi and CPLEX solvers were both installed you would see the following output from psamm-list-lpsolvers:

Prioritized solvers:
Name: cplex
Priority: 10
MILP (integer) problem support: True
Rational solution: False
Class: <class 'psamm.lpsolver.cplex.Solver'>

Name: gurobi
Priority: 9
MILP (integer) problem support: True
Rational solution: False
Class: <class 'psamm.lpsolver.gurobi.Solver'>

Unavailable solvers:
qsoptex: Error loading solver: No module named qsoptex

By default the solver with the highest priority (highest priority number) is used in constraint based simulations. If you want to use a solver with a lower priority you will need to specify it by using the --solver option. For example to run FBA on a model while using the Gurobi solver the following command would be used:

(psamm-env) $ psamm-model fba --solver name=gurobi

PSAMM Model Collection

Converted versions of 57 published SBML metabolic models, 9 published Excel models and one MATLAB model are available in the PSAMM Model Collection on GitHub. These models were converted to the YAML format and then manually edited when needed to produce models that can generate non-zero biomass fluxes. The changes to the models are tracked in the Git history of the repository so you can see exactly what changes needed to be made to the models. To download and use these models with PSAMM you can clone the Git repository using the following command:

$ git clone

This will create the directory psamm-model-collection in your current folder that contains one directory named excel with the converted Excel models, one directory named sbml with the converted SBML models and one named matlab with the converted MATLAB model. These models can then be used for simulations with PSAMM using the commands detailed in this tutorial.