1887

Abstract

Biofilm structural heterogeneity affects a broad range of microbially catalysed processes. Solute transport limitation and autoinhibitor production, two factors that contribute to heterogeneous biofilm development, were investigated using BacMIST, a computer simulation model. BacMIST combines a cellular automaton algorithm for biofilm growth with Brownian diffusion for solute transport. The simulation represented the growth of microbial unit cells in a three-dimensional domain modelled after a repeating section of a constant depth film fermenter. The simulation was implemented to analyse the effects of various levels of transport limitation on a growing single-species biofilm. In a system with rapid solute diffusion, cells throughout the biofilm grew at their maximum rate, and no solute gradient was formed over the biofilm thickness. In increasingly transport-limited systems, the rapidly growing fraction of the biofilm population decreased, and was found exclusively at the biofilm–liquid interface. Trans-biofilm growth substrate gradients also deepened with increasing transport limitation. Autoinhibitory biofilm growth was simulated for various rates of microbially produced inhibitor transport. Inhibitor transport rates affected both the biofilm population dynamics and the resulting biofilm structures. The formation of networks of void spaces in slow-growing regions of the biofilm and the development of columns in the fast-growing regions suggested a possible mechanism for the microscopically observed evolution of channels in biofilms.

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2003-10-01
2020-03-28
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