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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 506782, 12 pages
Research Article

An Integrated Modeling and Experimental Approach to Study the Influence of Environmental Nutrients on Biofilm Formation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

1Department of Chemical Engineering, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19444, USA
2Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
3The Center for Nonlinear Dynamics & Control (CENDAC), Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19444, USA
4Villanova Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering (VCASE), Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19444, USA

Received 24 September 2014; Accepted 9 February 2015

Academic Editor: Lei Chen

Copyright © 2015 Zhaobin Xu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The availability of nutrient components in the environment was identified as a critical regulator of virulence and biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This work proposes the first systems-biology approach to quantify microbial biofilm formation upon the change of nutrient availability in the environment. Specifically, the change of fluxes of metabolic reactions that were positively associated with P. aeruginosa biofilm formation was used to monitor the trend for P. aeruginosa to form a biofilm. The uptake rates of nutrient components were changed according to the change of the nutrient availability. We found that adding each of the eleven amino acids (Arg, Tyr, Phe, His, Iso, Orn, Pro, Glu, Leu, Val, and Asp) to minimal medium promoted P. aeruginosa biofilm formation. Both modeling and experimental approaches were further developed to quantify P. aeruginosa biofilm formation for four different availability levels for each of the three ions that include ferrous ions, sulfate, and phosphate. The developed modeling approach correctly predicted the amount of biofilm formation. By comparing reaction flux change upon the change of nutrient concentrations, metabolic reactions used by P. aeruginosa to regulate its biofilm formation are mainly involved in arginine metabolism, glutamate production, magnesium transport, acetate metabolism, and the TCA cycle.