Journal of biological dynamics

Mathematical modelling of CRISPR-Cas system effects on biofilm formation.

PMID 28426329


Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), linked with CRISPR associated (Cas) genes, can confer adaptive immunity to bacteria, against bacteriophage infections. Thus from a therapeutic standpoint, CRISPR immunity increases biofilm resistance to phage therapy. Recently, however, CRISPR-Cas genes have been implicated in reducing biofilm formation in lysogenized cells. Thus CRISPR immunity can have complex effects on phage-host-lysogen interactions, particularly in a biofilm. In this contribution, we develop and analyse a series of dynamical systems to elucidate and disentangle these interactions. Two competition models are used to study the effects of lysogens (first model) and CRISPR-immune bacteria (second model) in the biofilm. In the third model, the effect of delivering lysogens to a CRISPR-immune biofilm is investigated. Using standard analyses of equilibria, stability and bifurcations, our models predict that lysogens may be able to displace CRISPR-immune bacteria in a biofilm, and thus suggest strategies to eliminate phage-resistant biofilms.