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Quantitative analysis of experiments on bacterial chemotaxis to naphthalene

Authors

  • Joseph A. Pedit,

    1. Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, School of Public Health, CB 7431, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7431; telephone: 919-966-1481; fax: 919-966-7911
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  • Randall B. Marx,

    1. Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, School of Public Health, CB 7431, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7431; telephone: 919-966-1481; fax: 919-966-7911
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  • Cass T. Miller,

    1. Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, School of Public Health, CB 7431, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7431; telephone: 919-966-1481; fax: 919-966-7911
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  • Michael D. Aitken

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, School of Public Health, CB 7431, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7431; telephone: 919-966-1481; fax: 919-966-7911
    • Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, School of Public Health, CB 7431, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7431; telephone: 919-966-1481; fax: 919-966-7911
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

A mathematical model was developed to quantify chemotaxis to naphthalene by Pseudomonas putida G7 (PpG7) and its influence on naphthalene degradation. The model was first used to estimate the three transport parameters (coefficients for naphthalene diffusion, random motility, and chemotactic sensitivity) by fitting it to experimental data on naphthalene removal from a discrete source in an aqueous system. The best-fit value of naphthalene diffusivity was close to the value estimated from molecular properties with the Wilke-Chang equation. Simulations applied to a non-chemotactic mutant strain only fit the experimental data well if random motility was negligible, suggesting that motility may be lost rapidly in the absence of substrate or that gravity may influence net random motion in a vertically oriented experimental system. For the chemotactic wild-type strain, random motility and gravity were predicted to have a negligible impact on naphthalene removal relative to the impact of chemotaxis. Based on simulations using the best-fit value of the chemotactic sensitivity coefficient, initial cell concentrations for a non-chemotactic strain would have to be several orders of magnitude higher than for a chemotactic strain to achieve similar rates of naphthalene removal under the experimental conditions we evaluated. The model was also applied to an experimental system representing an adaptation of the conventional capillary assay to evaluate chemotaxis in porous media. Our analysis suggests that it may be possible to quantify chemotaxis in porous media systems by simply adjusting the model's transport parameters to account for tortuosity, as has been suggested by others. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 78: 626–634, 2002.

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