Cellular material and extracellular polymeric substances are the basic structural elements in biofilm systems. The structure and role of EPS for biofilm development and metabolic processes have not been precisely determined and, therefore, have not yet been included as a necessary element in modelling and simulation studies. This is due to the difficulty of experimentally detecting the extracellular polymeric substances in situ and differentiating them from cellular material on the one hand, and to the subsequent uncertainty about appropriate models - e.g. rigid hindrances, porous microstructure or visco-elastic structure - on the other hand. In this work, we report on the use of confocal laser scanning microscopy to monitor the development of a monoculture biofilm of Sphingomonas sp. grown in a flow cell. The bacterial strain was genetically labelled resulting in strong constitutive expression of the green fluorescent protein. The development of extracellular polymeric substances was followed bybinding of the lectin concavalin A to cell exopolysaccharides. The growth of the resulting strain was digitally recorded by automated confocal laser scanning microscopy. In addition, local velocity profiles of fluorescent carboxylate-modified microspheres were observed on pathlines throughout the biofilm. The CLSM image stacks were used as direct input for the explicit modelling and three-dimensional numerical simulation of flow fields and solute transport processes based on the conservation laws of continuum mechanics. At present, a strongly simplifying EPS-model is applied for numerical simulations. The EPSs are preliminarily assumed to behave like a rigid and dense hindrance with diffusive-reactive solute transport.

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