The Impact of Microstructure on Biofilm Rheology

Jay Stotsky, University of Colorado

Biofilms are bacterial communities that are adhered to a substrate, often in an aqueous environment. Mechanically, biofilms are known to exhibit a variety of complicated behaviors and are structurally multiscale materials. Recent experimental advances have led to characterizations of their mechanical behavior, in terms of measurements of the viscoelastic moduli of biofilms grown in bioreactors and biolfims' fracture and fragmentation properties. These are macroscale properties of biofilms. However, recent numerical studies indicate that heterogeneous, microscale features are critical to predicting biofilm rheology. This poster explores the connection between micro- and macroscale mechanical properties. The focus is on the computation of statistical characteristics of experimentally obtained biofilm data and the use of a generative statistical model to create "artificial" biofilms. Results from simulations indicate that the macroscopic mechanical properties of biofilms depend on the choice of microscale spatial model. The key finding is that a biologically inspired model of the locations of bacteria in a biofilm is critical to the simulation of biofilms with realistic in silico mechanical properties.

Abstract Author(s): Jay Stotsky