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In this paper an alternative derivation and interpretation are presented of the classical Keller-Segel model of cell migration due to random motion and chemotaxis. A multiphase modelling approach is used to describe how a population of cells moves through a fluid containing a diffusible chemical to which the cells are attracted. The cells and fluid are viewed as distinct components of a two-phase mixture. The principles of mass and momentum balance are applied to each phase, and appropriate constitutive laws imposed to close the resulting equations. A key assumption here is that the stress in the cell phase is influenced by the concentration of the diffusible chemical. By restricting attention to one-dimensional cartesian geometry we show how the model reduces to a pair of nonlinear coupled partial differential equations for the cell density and the chemical concentration. These equations may be written in the form of the Patlak-Keller-Segel model, naturally including density-dependent nonlinearities in the cell motility coefficients. There is a direct relationship between the random motility and chemotaxis coefficients, both depending in an inter-related manner on the chemical concentration. We suggest that this may explain why many chemicals appear to stimulate both chemotactic and chemokinetic responses in cell populations. After specialising our model to describe slime mold we then show how the functional form of the chemical potential that drives cell locomotion influences the ability of the system to generate spatial patterns. The paper concludes with a summary of the key results and a discussion of avenues for future research.

Original publication




Journal article


J Math Biol

Publication Date





604 - 626


Body Patterning, Chemotaxis, Computer Simulation, Models, Biological, Myxomycetes