A Two-Dimensional Multiphase Model of Biofilm Formation in Microfluidic Chambers
The bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa is the causal agent of many pathological conditions of economically important agricultural crops. There is no known cure for X. fastidiosa diseases, and management of the problem is based solely in controlling the population of insect vectors, which is somewhat effective. The bacterium causes disease by forming biofilms inside the vascular system of the plant, a process that is poorly understood. In microfluidic chambers, used as artificial xylem vessels, this bacterium has been observed to reproducibly cluster into a distinct, regular pattern of aggregates, spatially separated by channels of non-biofilm components. We develop a multiphase model in two dimensions, which recapitulates this spatial patterning, suggesting that bacterial growth and attachment/detachment processes are strongly influential modulators of these patterns. This indicates plausible strategies, such as the addition of metals and chelators, for mitigating the severity of diseases induced by this bacterial pathogen.