The development of biofilm architecture

We extend the one-dimensional polymer solution theory of bacterial biofilm growth described by Winstanley et al. (2011 Proc. R. Soc. A 467, 1449–1467 (doi:10.1098/rspa.2010.0327)) to deal with the problem of the growth of a patch of biofilm in more than one lateral dimension. The extension is non-trivial, as it requires consideration of the rheology of the polymer phase. We use a novel asymptotic technique to reduce the model to a free-boundary problem governed by the equations of Stokes flow with non-standard boundary conditions. We then consider the stability of laterally uniform biofilm growth, and show that the model predicts spatial instability; this is confirmed by a direct numerical solution of the governing equations. The instability results in cusp formation at the biofilm surface and provides an explanation for the common observation of patterned biofilm architectures.


Publication status:
Authors: Fowler, A. C., Kyrke-Smith, T. M., Winstanley, H. F.

On this site: Teresa Kyrke-Smith
1 April, 2016
Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science / 472
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