"Modeling of water transport in subaerial microbial communities"
Subaerial biofilms (SABs) are well-organized self-sufficient communities that colonize stone surfaces exposed to the atmosphere. Such biofilms are composed of different microbial species embedded in a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which spreads onto the substratum contributing to the microorganisms protection from external factors. Microbial life within these ecosystems is hard and mainly depends on the availability of liquid water, which plays an essential role in the microbial metabolic activities. Understanding the relationship between ambient air, biofilm and stone is of paramount importance for both stone conservation and biofilm lifecycle. In this talk, a mathematical model describing the water transport through atmosphere, SAB and substratum is presented, taking into account also the effect of the water content of the three layers on the metabolic activities of the microbial communities constituting the biofilm. Numerical simulations are performed to explore how SAB affects the flux of water between atmosphere and substratum. Simulation results are presented and discussed.