A computer investigation of chemically mediated detachment in bacterial biofilms


A three-dimensional computer model was used to evaluate the effect of chemically mediated detachment on biofilm development in a negligible-shear environment. The model, BacLAB, combines conventional diffusion-reaction equations for chemicals with a cellular automata algorithm to simulate bacterial growth, movement and detachment. BacLAB simulates the life cycle of a bacterial biofilm from its initial colonization of a surface to the development of a mature biofilm with cell areal densities comparable to those in the laboratory. A base model founded on well established transport equations that are easily adaptable to investigate conjectures at the biological level has been created. In this study, the conjecture of a detachment mechanism involving a bacterially produced chemical detachment factor in which high local concentrations of this detachment factor cause the bacteria to detach from the biofilm was examined. The results show that the often observed ‘mushroom’-shaped structure can occur if detachment events create voids so that the remaining attached cells look like mushrooms.




Hunt, S.M., M.A. Hamilton, J.T. Sears, G. Harkin, and J. Reno, "A computer investigation of chemically mediated detachment in bacterial biofilms," Microbiology, 149:1155-1163 (2003).
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