A minimal model of metabolism-based chemotaxis

Egbert, M. D., Barandiaran, X. E., & Di Paolo, E. A. (2010). A Minimal Model of Metabolism-Based Chemotaxis. PLoS Comput Biol, 6(12), e1001004.

We present the first model of metabolism-based chemotaxis that accomplishes chemotaxis without transmembrane receptors or signal transduction proteins, through the direct modulation of flagellar rotation by metabolite concentrations. The minimal model recreates chemotactic patterns found in real bacteria, illuminating some previous work metabolism-dependent chemotaxis. A nice example of the inpiration taken from an autonomous perspective on agency, linking metabolism and behaviour.

ABSTRACT: Since the pioneering work by Julius Adler in the 1960’s, bacterial chemotaxis has been predominantly studied as metabolism-independent. All available simulation models of bacterial chemotaxis endorse this assumption. Recent studies have shown, however, that many metabolism-dependent chemotactic patterns occur in bacteria. We hereby present the simplest artificial protocell model capable of performing metabolism-based chemotaxis. The model serves as a proof of concept to show how even the simplest metabolism can sustain chemotactic patterns of varying sophistication. It also reproduces a set of phenomena that have recently attracted attention on bacterial chemotaxis and provides insights about alternative mechanisms that could instantiate them. We conclude that relaxing the metabolism-independent assumption provides important theoretical advances, forces us to rethink some established pre-conceptions and may help us better understand unexplored and poorly understood aspects of bacterial chemotaxis.

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