Growth of mixed cultures on mixtures of substitutable substrates: the operating diagram for a structured model. Academic Article uri icon


  • The growth of mixed microbial cultures on mixtures of substrates is a problem of fundamental biological interest. In the last two decades, several unstructured models of mixed-substrate growth have been studied. It is well known, however, that the growth patterns in mixed-substrate environments are dictated by the enzymes that catalyse the transport of substrates into the cell. We have shown previously that a model taking due account of transport enzymes captures and explains all the observed patterns of growth of a single species on two substitutable substrates (J. Theor. Biol. 190 (1998) 241). Here, we extend the model to study the steady states of growth of two species on two substitutable substrates. The model is analysed to determine the conditions for existence and stability of the various steady states. Simulations are performed to determine the flow rates and feed concentrations at which both species coexist. We show that if the interaction between the two species is purely competitive, then at any given flow rate, coexistence is possible only if the ratio of the two feed concentrations lies within a certain interval; excessive supply of either one of the two substrates leads to annihilation of one of the species. This result simplifies the construction of the operating diagram for purely competing species. This is because the two-dimensional surface that bounds the flow rates and feed concentrations at which both species coexist has a particularly simple geometry: It is completely determined by only two coordinates, the flow rate and the ratio of the two feed concentrations. We also study commensalistic interactions between the two species by assuming that one of the species excretes a product that can support the growth of the other species. We show that such interactions enhance the coexistence region.

published proceedings

  • J Theor Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Reeves, G. T., Narang, A., & Pilyugin, S. S.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Reeves, Gregory T||Narang, Atul||Pilyugin, Sergei S

publication date

  • January 2004