Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 70, Issue 6, pp 1525–1569 | Cite as

Overview of Mathematical Approaches Used to Model Bacterial Chemotaxis I: The Single Cell

  • M. J. Tindall
  • S. L. Porter
  • P. K. Maini
  • G. Gaglia
  • J. P. Armitage
Review Article


Mathematical modeling of bacterial chemotaxis systems has been influential and insightful in helping to understand experimental observations. We provide here a comprehensive overview of the range of mathematical approaches used for modeling, within a single bacterium, chemotactic processes caused by changes to external gradients in its environment. Specific areas of the bacterial system which have been studied and modeled are discussed in detail, including the modeling of adaptation in response to attractant gradients, the intracellular phosphorylation cascade, membrane receptor clustering, and spatial modeling of intracellular protein signal transduction. The importance of producing robust models that address adaptation, gain, and sensitivity are also discussed. This review highlights that while mathematical modeling has aided in understanding bacterial chemotaxis on the individual cell scale and guiding experimental design, no single model succeeds in robustly describing all of the basic elements of the cell. We conclude by discussing the importance of this and the future of modeling in this area.


Bacterial chemotaxis Single cell Review 


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Copyright information

© Society for Mathematical Biology 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Tindall
    • 1
  • S. L. Porter
    • 2
  • P. K. Maini
    • 1
    • 3
  • G. Gaglia
    • 1
  • J. P. Armitage
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Mathematical BiologyMathematical InstituteOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology UnitUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Oxford Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, Department of BiochemistryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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