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Sabina Altus, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Colorado Boulder

Multidimensional Age-Structured Modeling

Carbon fixation by cyanobacteria accounts for nearly 40% of the global total. A carbon concentrating mechanism facilitates this process by gathering the cell’s available carbon supply around the key enzymes, carbonic anhydrase and RuBisCO, which are encapsulated into icosahedral nanostructures called carboxysomes. Carboxysome efficiency is thus a critical control on cell growth and fitness. While carboxysome formation and functionality is well understood, it is unclear how their activity and capability changes as these structures age.
In this work, an n-dimensional age-structured model is presented for the cyanobacteria population, including how the carboxysomes it contains are distributed throughout. Features of the model such as, steady states and the conversion to an equivalent size-structured model, will be discussed along with how the model may be used to make important predictions about the population. Specifically, how model predictions will be compared to microscopy data to identify the maximum lifespan of a single carboxysome and how they degrade over time.

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