Influence of reaction-induced convection on quorum sensing in enzyme-loaded agarose beads

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© 2019 Author(s). In theory, groups of enzyme-loaded particles producing an acid or base may show complex behavior including dynamical quorum sensing, the appearance of synchronized oscillations above a critical number or density of particles. Here, experiments were performed with the enzyme urease loaded into mm-sized agarose beads and placed in a solution of urea, resulting in an increase in pH. This behavior was found to be dependent upon the number of beads present in the array; however, reaction-induced convection occurred and plumes of high pH developed that extended to the walls of the reactor. The convection resulted in the motion of the mm-sized particles and conversion of the solution to high pH. Simulations in a simple model of the beads demonstrated the suppression of dynamical quorum sensing in the presence of flow.

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