Microbial activity governs elemental cycling and the transformation of many anthropogenic substances in aqueous environments. Through the development of a dynamic cell model of the well-characterized, versatile, and abundant Geobacter sulfurreducens, we showed that a kinetic representation of key components of cell metabolism matched microbial growth dynamics observed in chemostat experiments under various environmental conditions and led to results similar to those from a comprehensive flux balance model. Coupling the kinetic cell model to its environment by expressing substrate uptake rates depending on intra- and extracellular substrate concentrations, two-dimensional reactive transport simulations of an aquifer were performed. They illustrated that a proper representation of growth efficiency as a function of substrate availability is a determining factor for the spatial distribution of microbial populations in a porous medium. It was shown that simplified model representations of microbial dynamics in the subsurface that only depended on extracellular conditions could be derived by properly parameterizing emerging properties of the kinetic cell model.
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