DOI: 0808.0172Aug 1, 2008Paper

Nonlinearity in Bacterial Population Dynamics: Proposal for Experiments for the Observation of Abrupt Transitions in Patches

V. M. Kenkre, Niraj Kumar


An explicit proposal for experiments leading to abrupt transitions in spatially extended bacterial populations in a Petri dish is presented on the basis of an exact formula obtained through an analytic theory. The theory provides accurately the transition expressions in spite of the fact that the actual solutions, which involve strong nonlinearity, are inaccessible to it. The analytic expressions are verified through numerical solutions of the relevant nonlinear equation. The experimental set-up suggested uses opaque masks in a Petri dish bathed in ultraviolet radiation as in Lin et al., Biophys. J. {\bf 87}, 75 (2004) and Perry, J. R. Soc. Interface {\bf 2}, 379 (2005) but is based on the interplay of two distances the bacteria must traverse, one of them favorable and the other adverse. As a result of this interplay feature, the experiments proposed introduce highly enhanced reliability in interpretation of observations and in the potential for extraction of system parameters.

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