A framework for multidimensional modelling of activity and structure of multispecies biofilms

Joao B. Xavier, Cristian Picioreanu, Mark C.M. Van Loosdrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Concepts from previous biofilm models were integrated to create a framework for the implementation of multidimensional (2D and 3D) multispecies biofilm models. The framework is here described at three levels: (i) mathematical representation of the processes involved in biofilm formation, (ii) numerical implementation into a computer program (freely available from our website http://www.biofilms.bt.tudelft.nl/ frameworkMaterial) and (iii) using the program for the creation of biofilm models with multiple bacterial and solute species. An improved version of the individual-based modelling (IbM) that allows structured biomass was used. In this approach biomass composition may be discriminated into any number of particulate species, including extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) for which specific functionality was included. Detachment is also included, described as occurring at the biofilm surface with variable local rates derived from functions of state variables. The application of this modelling framework to a multispecies system with structured biomass is illustrated in a case study where the competition between an organism capable of accumulating polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB, an internal storage compound) and an EPS-producing organism in a two-species biofilm is analysed. Results illustrate that biofilms enriched in PHB-producing organisms may be obtained by supplying substrate intermittently in feast/famine cycles. © 2005 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1103
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology


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