DIMACS/BIOMAPS Seminar Series on Quantitative Biology and Epidemiology.

Title: Gene Transfer in Biofilms: a mathematical model

Speaker: Hal Smith, Arizona State University

Date: Wednesday, April 28, 2004, 1:00 pm

Location: Hill Center, Room 260, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


The transfer of genetic material between organisms in biofilms is an important phenomena that has received little attention from mathematical modelers despite the acknowledgement of the need for such modelling by Simonsen in a well-known review in the early 1990s. For gene transfer to be significant, bacterial densities must be high, a condition that may be typically met in the mature biofilm environment. Transfer of antibiotic resistance between microbes is of obvious current interest due to the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of many human pathogens (TB, staph infection,etc); however, transferred genes may code for a variety of useful or unknown bacterial functions . Gene transfer typically occurs when a host bacteria passes a plasmid, a small circular DNA not part of the host genome, to another, not necessarily related bacteria, following conjugation. Together with graduate student Mudassar Imran and collaborator Don Jones, we have constructed a simple model of gene transfer in an immersed biofilm in two environmental settings: the well-stirred chemostat and the flow reactor. The talk will focus on the model, our mathematical analysis and simulations of it and the implications of our work.

Seminar sponsored by DIMACS/BIOMAPS Seminar Series on Quantitative Biology and Epidemiology.