Postfragmentation Density Function for Bacterial Aggregates in Laminar Flow
The postfragmentation probability density of daughter flocs is one of the least well-understood aspects of modeling flocculation. We use three-dimensional positional data of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacterial flocs in suspension and the knowledge of hydrodynamic properties of a laminar flow field to construct a probability density function of floc volumes after a fragmentation event. We provide computational results which predict that the primary fragmentation mechanism for large flocs is erosion. The postfragmentation probability density function has a strong dependence on the size of the original floc and indicates that most fragmentation events result in clumps of one to three bacteria eroding from the original floc. We also provide numerical evidence that exhaustive fragmentation yields a limiting density inconsistent with the log-normal density predicted in the literature, most likely due to the heterogeneous nature of K. pneumoniae flocs. To support our conclusions, artificial flocs were generated and display similar postfragmentation density and exhaustive fragmentation.