Transport phenomena of microbial flora in the small intestine with peristalsis

T. Ishikawa, T. Sato, G. Mohit, Y. Imai, T. Yamaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The gastrointestinal tract of humans is colonized by indigenous prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial cells that form a complex ecological system called microbial flora. Although the microbial flora has diverse functions, its homeostasis inside the gastrointestinal tract is still largely unknown. Therefore, creating a model for investigating microbial flora in the gastrointestinal tract is important. In this study, we developed a novel numerical model to explore the transport phenomena of microbial flora in the small intestine. By simultaneously solving the flow field generated by peristalsis, the concentrations of oxygen and nutrient, and the densities of moderate anaerobes and aerobes, the effects of fluid mechanics on the transport phenomena of microbial flora are discussed. The results clearly illustrated that fluid mechanics have considerable influence not only on the bacterial population, but also on the concentration distributions of oxygen and nutrient. Especially, the flow field enhances the radial variation of the concentration fields. We also show scaling arguments for bacterial growth and oxygen consumption, which capture the main features of the results. Additionally, we investigated the transport phenomena of microbial flora in a long tube with 40 constrictions. The results showed a high growth rate of aerobes in the upstream side and a high growth rate of anaerobes in the downstream side, which qualitatively agrees with experimental observations of human intestines. These new findings provide the fundamental basis for a better understanding of the transport phenomena of microbial flora in the intestine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-73
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun 21


  • Bio-fluid mechanics
  • Intestine
  • Microbial flora
  • Numerical simulation
  • Peristalsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Transport phenomena of microbial flora in the small intestine with peristalsis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this