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Biotechnol Bioeng. 1997 Mar 5;53(5):487-96.

Mathematical model for characterization of bacterial migration through sand cores.

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1
Department of Chemical Engineering, Thornton Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-2442, USA.

Abstract

The migration of chemotactic bacteria in liquid media has previously been characterized in terms of two fundamental transport coefficients-the random motility coefficient and the chemotactic sensitivity coefficient. For modeling migration in porous media, we have shown that these coefficients which appear in macroscopic balance equations can be replaced by effective values that reflect the impact of the porous media on the swimming behavior of individual bacteria. Explicit relationships between values of the coefficients in porous and liquid media were derived. This type of quantitative analysis of bacterial migration is necessary for predicting bacterial population distributions in subsurface environments for applications such as in situ bioremediation in which bacteria respond chemotactically to the pollutants that they degrade.We analyzed bacterial penetration times through sand columns from two different experimental studies reported in the literature within the context of our mathematical model to evaluate the effective transport coefficients. Our results indicated that the presence of the porous medium reduced the random motility of the bacterial population by a factor comparable to the theoretical prediction. We were unable to determine the effect of the porous medium on the chemotactic sensitivity coefficient because no chemotactic response was observed in the experimental studies. However, the mathematical model was instrumental in developing a plausible explanation for why no chemotactic response was observed. The chemical gradients may have been too shallow over most of the sand core to elicit a measurable response. (c) 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 53: 487-496, 1997.

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