Computational and Mathematical Studies of the Biomechanics of Biofilms

Jay Stotsky, University of Colorado

Photo of Jay Stotsky

Bacterial biofilms are communities of bacteria growing on a surface, typically in an aqueous environment. Interest in understanding biofilm behavior arises from a variety of applications; strategies to mitigate corrosion in industrial machinery, the treatment of bacterial infections and process control in bioreactors are a few examples. I will discuss approaches to validate a mathematical model of fluid-structure interaction in biofilms by comparison with experimental data. The model is based on a mathematical framework known as the Immersed Boundary Method, but requires several crucial modifications specific to biofilm modeling. I will show that certain biomechanical properties computed from the model quantitatively agree with experimental data. I will then discuss a statistical model of the positions of bacteria within a biofilm. The model is derived from results on the statistical physics of fluids and a mathematical object known as a spatial point process. With the model I then create artificial biofilms on a computer and compare them with experimental data. Results indicate the importance of non-uniformity in the positions of bacteria within a biofilm.

Abstract Author(s): Jay A. Stotsky