Coupled effects of chemotaxis and growth on traveling bacterial waves

Zhifeng Yan, Edward J. Bouwer, Markus Hilpert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Traveling bacterial waves are capable of improving contaminant remediation in the subsurface. It is fairly well understood how bacterial chemotaxis and growth separately affect the formation and propagation of such waves. However, their interaction is not well understood. We therefore perform a modeling study to investigate the coupled effects of chemotaxis and growth on bacterial migration, and examine their effects on contaminant remediation. We study the waves by using different initial electron acceptor concentrations for different bacteria and substrate systems. Three types of traveling waves can occur: a chemotactic wave due to the biased movement of chemotactic bacteria resulting from metabolism-generated substrate concentration gradients; a growth/decay/motility wave due to a dynamic equilibrium between bacterial growth, decay and random motility; and an integrated wave due to the interaction between bacterial chemotaxis and growth. Chemotaxis hardly enhances the bacterial propagation if it is too weak to form a chemotactic wave or its wave speed is less than half of the growth/decay/motility wave speed. However, chemotaxis significantly accelerates bacterial propagation once its wave speed exceeds the growth/decay/motility wave speed. When convection occurs, it speeds up the growth/decay/motility wave but slows down or even eliminates the chemotactic wave due to the dispersion. Bacterial survival proves particularly important for bacterial propagation. Therefore we develop a conceptual model to estimate the speed of growth/decay/motility waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-152
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial chemotaxis
  • Bacterial growth
  • Bacterial waves
  • Contaminant remediation
  • Electron acceptor concentration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Coupled effects of chemotaxis and growth on traveling bacterial waves'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this