Title: Linking Reactive Transport Models to Molecular Biology
Advances in molecular-biological and omics tools have revolutionized
microbiology, providing information about the vast abundance and diversity of previously difficult-to-study microorganisms in the environment. These data types have the potential to inform biogeochemical models, improving predictions of reaction rates of nutrients or contaminants. However, we need to critically evaluate how molecular-biological data can be quantitatively linked to biogeochemical reaction rates.
I present modeling approaches that explicitly simulate the concentrations of functional genes and transcripts, and how these concentrations influence reaction rates. Applying the model to the example of nitrogen cycling, I estimate the uncertainties of reaction rates and model parameters with a Bayesian modeling approach. A comparison to a Monod-type model shows if and how functional-gene and transcript data can reduce these uncertainties.
Model simulations of denitrification at the river–groundwater interface reveal the spatial and temporal patterns of transcripts and enzymes related to denitrification under steady and dynamic biogeochemical conditions. The model-based analysis highlights some of the mechanisms that make the direct prediction of reaction rates from transcript concentrations impractical under environmental conditions. Building on these findings, I propose measurement strategies that will allow us to better use molecular-biological data for reactive-transport modeling.
Anna Störiko is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign. She recently finished her PhD in Environmental Science at the University of Tübingen, Germany, where she also obtained her BSc and MSc in Environmental Science. During her PhD, she combined process-based modeling of nitrogen cycling with molecular-biological information about microorganisms. Her current project focuses on modeling the degradation of TCE in groundwater and quantifying related uncertainties. Anna's research interests are flow and reactive-transport modeling, the transformation of nutrients and contaminants in the environment, uncertainty quantification and Bayesian methods.