Journal of Scientific Computing

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 1060–1090 | Cite as

Time Adaptive Numerical Solution of a Highly Degenerate Diffusion–Reaction Biofilm Model Based on Regularisation

  • Maryam Ghasemi
  • Hermann J. Eberl


We consider a quasilinear degenerate diffusion–reaction system that describes biofilm formation. The model exhibits two non-linear effects: a power law degeneracy as one of the dependent variables vanishes and a super diffusion singularity as it approaches unity. Biologically relevant solutions are characterized by a moving interface and gradient blow-up there. Discretisation of the PDE in space by a standard finite volume scheme leads to a singular system of ordinary differential equations. We show that regularisation of this system allows the application of error controlled adaptive integration techniques to solve the underlying PDE. This overcomes the major limitation of existing methods for this type of problem which work with fixed time-steps. We apply the resulting numerical method to study the effect of signal diffusion in the aqueous phase on quorum sensing induction in a biofilm colony.


Biofilm Degenerate diffusion–reaction equation Quorum sensing Regularization Semi-discretization Time adaptivity 

Mathematics Subject Classification

Primary 35K65 65M08 Secondary 68U20 92D25 



This study has been financially supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC): MG holds a PGS-D graduate scholarship, HJE a Discovery Grant, the equipment was purchased with a Research Tools and Infrastructure Grant (HJE).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GuelphGuelphCanada

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