Thermodynamic concepts in the study of microbial populations: age structure in plasmodium falciparum infected red blood cells
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Variability is a hallmark of microbial systems. On the one hand, microbes are subject to environmental heterogeneity and undergo changeable conditions in their immediate surroundings. On the other hand, microbial populations exhibit high cellular diversity. The relation between microbial diversity and variability of population dynamics is difficult to assess. This connection can be quantitatively studied from a perspective that combines in silico models and thermodynamic methods and interpretations. The infection process of Plasmodium falciparum parasitizing human red blood cells under laboratory cultivation conditions is used to illustrate the potential of Individual-based models in the context of predictive microbiology and parasitology. Experimental data from several in vitro cultures are compared to the outcome of an individual-based model and analysed from a thermodynamic perspective. This approach allows distinguishing between intrinsic and external constraints that give rise to the diversity in the infection forms, and it provides a criterion to quantitatively define transient and stationary regimes in the culture. Increasing the ability of models to discriminate between different states of microbial populations enhances their predictive capability which finally leads to a better the control over culture systems. The strategy here presented is of general application and it can substantially improve modelling of other types of microbial communities.
CitationFerrer, J. [et al.]. Thermodynamic concepts in the study of microbial populations: age structure in plasmodium falciparum infected red blood cells. "PLoS ONE Journal Information", 31 Octubre 2011, vol. 6, núm. 10, p. e26690 1-e26690 11.