Communications in Mathematical Sciences

Volume 10 (2012)

Number 2

Models of microbial dormancy in biofilms and planktonic cultures

Pages: 493 – 511



Bruce P. Ayati (Program in Applied Mathematical & Computational Sciences, University of Iowa)

Isaac Klapper (Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University)


We present models of dormancy in planktonic cultures and in biofilm, and a new numerical technique for solving the model equations. We use this modeling framework to examine the relative advantage of short dormancy versus long dormancy times in planktonic cultures and biofilms under some basic assumptions. Simulations and asymptotic analyses indicate that in planktonic batch cultures and in chemostats, live biomass is maximized by the fastest possible exit from dormancy. The lower limit of time to reawakening is thus perhaps governed by physiological, biochemical, or other constraints within the cells. In biofilm we see, in contrast, that the slower waker may have an advantage over the faster waker.


biofilm, physiological structure, dormancy, bacteria

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

35B40, 65M25, 92-04, 92-08, 92C37, 92C50

Published 21 December 2011