Mathematical model for contemplative amoeboid locomotion

Kei Ichi Ueda, Seiji Takagi, Yasumasa Nishiura, Toshiyuki Nakagaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


It has recently been reported that even single-celled organisms appear to be "indecisive" or "contemplative" when confronted with an obstacle. When the amoeboid organism Physarum plasmodium encounters the chemical repellent quinine during migration along a narrow agar lane, it stops for a period of time (typically several hours) and then suddenly begins to move again. When movement resumes, three distinct types of behavior are observed: The plasmodium continues forward, turns back, or migrates in both directions simultaneously. Here, we develop a continuum mathematical model of the cell dynamics of contemplative amoeboid movement. Our model incorporates the dynamics of the mass flow of the protoplasmic sol, in relation to the generation of pressure based on the autocatalytic kinetics of pseudopod formation and retraction (mainly, sol-gel conversion accompanying actin-myosin dynamics). The biological justification of the model is tested by comparing with experimentally measured spatiotemporal profiles of the cell thickness. The experimentally observed types of behavior are reproduced in simulations based on our model, and the core logic of the modeled behavior is clarified by means of nonlinear dynamics. An on-off transition between the refractory and activated states of the chemical reactivity that takes place at the leading edge of the plasmodium plays a key role in the emergence of contemplative behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021916
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Feb 28

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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