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Mathematical analysis of laboratory microbial experiments demonstrating deterministic chaotic dynamics.

Abstract

Presented is a system of four ordinary differential equations and a mathematical analysis of microbiological experiments in a four-component chemostat-nutrient n, rods r, cocci c, and predators p. The analysis is consistent with the conclusion that previous experiments produced features of deterministic chaotic and classical dynamics depending on dilution rate. The surrogate model incorporates as much experimental detail as possible, but necessarily contains unmeasured parameters. The objective is to understand better the differences between model simulations and experimental results in complex microbial populations. The key methodology for simulation of chaotic dynamics, consistent with the measured dilution rate and microbial volume averages, was to cause the preference of p for r vs. c to vary with the r and c concentrations, to make r more competitive for nutrient than c, and to recycle some dying p biomass, leading to a modified version of the Monod kinetics model. Our mathematical model demonstrated that the occurrence of chaotic dynamics requires a predator, p, preference for r versus c to increase significantly with increases in r and c populations. Also included is a discussion of several generalizations of the existing model and a possible involvement of the minimum energy dissipation principle. This principle appears fundamental to thermodynamic systems including living systems. Several new experiments are suggested.

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