Chemosensing in microorganisms to practical biosensors

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Ghosh, Surya K. ; Kundu, Tapanendu ; Sain, Anirban (2012)

Microorganisms like bacteria can sense concentration of chemo-attractants in its medium very accurately. They achieve this through interaction between the receptors on their cell surface and the chemo-attractant molecules (like sugar). But the physical processes like diffusion set some limits on the accuracy of detection which was discussed by Berg and Purcell in the late seventies. We have a re-look at their work in order to assess what insight it may offer towards making efficient, practical biosensors. We model the functioning of a typical biosensor as a reaction-diffusion process in a confined geometry. Using available data first we characterize the system by estimating the kinetic constants for the binding/unbinding reactions between the chemo-attractants and the receptors. Then we compute the binding flux for this system which Berg and Purcell had discussed. But unlike in microorganisms where the interval between successive measurements determines the efficiency of the nutrient searching process, it turns out that biosensors depend on long time properties like signal saturation time which we study in detail. We also develop a mean field description of the kinetics of the system.
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