On Modeling Ensemble Transport of Metal Reducing Motile Bacteria

Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 10;9(1):14638. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51271-0.


Many metal reducing bacteria are motile with their run-and-tumble behavior exhibiting series of flights and waiting-time spanning multiple orders of magnitude. While several models of bacterial processes do not consider their ensemble motion, some models treat motility using an advection diffusion equation (ADE). In this study, Geobacter and Pelosinus, two metal reducing species, are used in micromodel experiments for study of their motility characteristics. Trajectories of individual cells on the order of several seconds to few minutes in duration are analyzed to provide information on (1) the length of runs, and (2) time needed to complete a run (waiting or residence time). A Continuous Time Random Walk (CTRW) model to predict ensemble breakthrough plots is developed based on the motility statistics. The results of the CTRW model and an ADE model are compared with the real breakthrough plots obtained directly from the trajectories. The ADE model is shown to be insufficient, whereas a coupled CTRW model is found to be good at predicting breakthroughs at short distances and at early times, but not at late time and long distances. The inadequacies of the simple CTRW model can possibly be improved by accounting for correlation in run length and waiting time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't