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Title: Mathematical modelling and analysis of aspects of bacterial motility
Author: Rosser, Gabriel A.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The motile behaviour of bacteria underlies many important aspects of their actions, including pathogenicity, foraging efficiency, and ability to form biofilms. In this thesis, we apply mathematical modelling and analysis to various aspects of the planktonic motility of flagellated bacteria, guided by experimental observations. We use data obtained by tracking free-swimming Rhodobacter sphaeroides under a microscope, taking advantage of the availability of a large dataset acquired using a recently developed, high-throughput protocol. A novel analysis method using a hidden Markov model for the identification of reorientation phases in the tracks is described. This is assessed and compared with an established method using a computational simulation study, which shows that the new method has a reduced error rate and less systematic bias. We proceed to apply the novel analysis method to experimental tracks, demonstrating that we are able to successfully identify reorientations and record the angle changes of each reorientation phase. The analysis pipeline developed here is an important proof of concept, demonstrating a rapid and cost-effective protocol for the investigation of myriad aspects of the motility of microorganisms. In addition, we use mathematical modelling and computational simulations to investigate the effect that the microscope sampling rate has on the observed tracking data. This is an important, but often overlooked aspect of experimental design, which affects the observed data in a complex manner. Finally, we examine the role of rotational diffusion in bacterial motility, testing various models against the analysed data. This provides strong evidence that R. sphaeroides undergoes some form of active reorientation, in contrast to the mainstream belief that the process is passive.
Supervisor: Maini, Philip K.; Baker, Ruth E.; Fletcher, Alexander G.; Leake, Mark Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Life Sciences ; Mathematics ; Biology and other natural sciences (mathematics) ; Mathematical biology ; Probability theory and stochastic processes ; Microscopy ; Biophysics ; Stochastic processes ; bacterial chemotaxis ; bacterial motility ; mathematical ecology ; tracking ; hidden markov model ; velocity jump process ; correlated random walk