Individual-Based Modeling of Spatial Dynamics of Chemotactic Microbial Populations

Congjian Ni, Ting Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One important direction of synthetic biology is to establish desired spatial structures from microbial populations. Underlying this structural development process are different driving factors, among which bacterial motility and chemotaxis serve as a major force. Here, we present an individual-based, biophysical computational framework for mechanistic and multiscale simulation of the spatiotemporal dynamics of motile and chemotactic microbial populations. The framework integrates cellular movement with spatial population growth, mechanical and chemical cellular interactions, and intracellular molecular kinetics. It is validated by a statistical comparison of single-cell chemotaxis simulations with reported experiments. The framework successfully captures colony range expansion of growing isogenic populations and also reveals chemotaxis-modulated, spatial patterns of a two-species amensal community. Partial differential equation-based models subsequently validate these simulation findings. This study provides a versatile computational tool to uncover the fundamentals of microbial spatial ecology as well as to facilitate the design of synthetic consortia for desired spatial patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3714-3723
Number of pages10
JournalACS synthetic biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 18 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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