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Mathematical Modelling of Quorum Sensing in Biofilms

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Title: Mathematical Modelling of Quorum Sensing in Biofilms
Author: Frederick, Mallory Rose
Department: Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Program: Mathematics and Statistics
Advisor: Eberl, Hermann
Abstract: Quorum sensing is a cell communication mechanism used to coordinate group behaviour based on population density. A mathematical model of quorum sensing in bacterial biofilms is developed, consisting of a nonlinear diffusion reaction system describing the effects of a growing biofilm on bacterial quorum sensing behaviour. In numerical experiments, the influence of the hydrodynamic environment and nutrient conditions on biofilm growth and quorum sensing behaviour are studied, and flow-facilitated inter-colony communication and spatiotemporal quorum sensing induction patterns are observed. The model is extended to include an impact of quorum sensing on biofilm growth, through the explicit description of EPS, the protective biomass layer surrounding bacterial biofilm cells. The circumstances under which quorum sensing-regulated EPS production is a beneficial strategy for cells are identified. Biofilm colonies that use this strategy have lower cell populations than non-quorum sensing colonies, but may secure nutrients in a space-limited environment and outcompete neighbouring colonies.
Date: 2010-05-07

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