Indexed on: 15 Jun '11Published on: 15 Jun '11Published in: Mathematical Biosciences
Bacterial biofilms are complex microbial depositions on immersed interfaces that form wherever the environmental conditions sustain microbial growth. Despite their name, biofilms can develop in highly irregular structures. Recently several mathematical concepts have been introduced to model these spatially structured microbial populations. Regardless of the type of model, they all have, even for microbially relatively simple systems, many parameters which generally are known at most approximately. We investigate the effect of uncertainties in model parameters on four morphological and four ecological output parameters using a nonlinear diffusion model for a biofilm in which two species compete for a shared nutrient. To this end we conduct an extensive computer simulation experiment for two different levels of data uncertainty, three different hydrodynamic conditions, and two different scenarios of bulk substrate availability. Our results indicate that input model parameter uncertainties have a much larger effect on ecological than on morphological output parameters.