Impact of initial conditions on extant microbial kinetic parameter estimates: Application to chlorinated ethene dehalorespiration

Deyang Huang, Yen Jung Lai, Jennifer G. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Monod kinetics are the foundation of mathematical models of many environmentally important biological processes, including the dehalorespiration of chlorinated ethene groundwater contaminants. The Monod parameters-q max, the maximum specific substrate utilization rate, and K S, the half-saturation constant-are typically estimated in batch assays, which are superficially simple to prepare and maintain. However, if initial conditions in batch assays are not chosen carefully, it is unlikely that the estimated parameter values will be meaningful because they do not reflect microbial activity in the environmental system of interest, and/or they are not mathematically identifiable. The estimation of qmax and KS values that are highly correlated undoubtedly contributes significantly to the wide range in reported parameter values and may undermine efforts to use mathematical models to demonstrate the occurrence of natural attenuation or predict the performance of engineered bioremediation approaches. In this study, a series of experimental and theoretical batch kinetic assays were conducted using the tetrachloroethene-respirer Desulfuromonas michiganensis to systematically evaluate the effects of initial batch assay conditions, expressed as the initial substrate (S0)-to-initial biomass concentration (X0) ratio (S0/X0) and the S0/K S ratio on parameter correlation. An iterative approach to obtain meaningful Monod parameter estimates was developed and validated using three different strains and can be broadly applied to a range of other substrates and populations. While the S0/X0 ratio is critical to obtaining kinetic parameter estimates that reflect in situ microbial activity, this study shows that optimization of the S0/KS ratio is key to minimizing Monod parameter correlation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2279-2288
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Dehalorespiration
  • Experimental design
  • Identifiability analysis
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Monod kinetics
  • Tetrachloroethene (PCE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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