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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. © 2008 Society for Mathematical Biology.

Original publication




Journal article


Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

Publication Date





1525 - 1569