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In PLoS computational biology

Spatiotemporal models that account for heterogeneity within microbial communities rely on single-cell data for calibration and validation. Such data, commonly collected via microscopy and flow cytometry, have been made more accessible by recent advances in microfluidics platforms and data processing pipelines. However, validating models against such data poses significant challenges. Validation practices vary widely between modelling studies; systematic and rigorous methods have not been widely adopted. Similar challenges are faced by the (macrobial) ecology community, in which systematic calibration approaches are often employed to improve quantitative predictions from computational models. Here, we review single-cell observation techniques that are being applied to study microbial communities and the calibration strategies that are being employed for accompanying spatiotemporal models. To facilitate future calibration efforts, we have compiled a list of summary statistics relevant for quantifying spatiotemporal patterns in microbial communities. Finally, we highlight some recently developed techniques that hold promise for improved model calibration, including algorithmic guidance of summary statistic selection and machine learning approaches for efficient model simulation.

Yip Aaron, Smith-Roberge Julien, Khorasani Sara Haghayegh, Aucoin Marc G, Ingalls Brian P