Assessment of three-dimensional biofilm models through direct comparison with confocal microscopy imaging

J. B. Xavier, C. Picioreanu, M. C.M. van Loosdrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The mathematical modeling of spatial biofilm formation that provides the capability to predict biofilm structure from first principles has been in development for the past six years. However, a direct and quantitative link between model predictions and the experimentally observed structure formation still remains to be established. This work assesses the capability of a state-of-the-art technique for three-dimensional (3D) modeling of biofilm structure, individual based modeling (IbM), to quantitatively describe the early development of a multispecies denitrifying biofilm. Model evaluation was carried out by comparison of predicted structure with that observed from two experimental datasets using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) monitoring of biofilm development in laboratory flowcells. Experimental conditions provided biofilm growth without substrate limitation, which was confirmed from substrate profiles computed by the model. 3D structures were compared quantitatively using a set of morphological parameters including the biovolume, filled-space profiles, substratum coverage, average thickness and normalized roughness. In spite of the different morphologies detectable in the two independent short-term experiments analyzed here, the model was capable of accurate fitting data from both experiments. Prediction of structure formation was precise, as expressed by the set of morphology parameters used. © IWA Publishing 2004.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Engineering


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