Complex Diffusion in Bacteria

Christopher H. Bohrer, Jie Xiao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Diffusion within bacteria is often thought of as a “simple” random process by which molecules collide and interact with each other. New research however shows that this is far from the truth. Here we shed light on the complexity and importance of diffusion in bacteria, illustrating the similarities and differences of diffusive behaviors of molecules within different compartments of bacterial cells. We first describe common methodologies used to probe diffusion and the associated models and analyses. We then discuss distinct diffusive behaviors of molecules within different bacterial cellular compartments, highlighting the influence of metabolism, size, crowding, charge, binding, and more. We also explicitly discuss where further research and a united understanding of what dictates diffusive behaviors across the different compartments of the cell are required, pointing out new research avenues to pursue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages29
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • Anomalous Diffusion
  • Bacteria
  • Cell envelope
  • Charge
  • Confinement
  • Crowding
  • Diffusion
  • Glass
  • Inner membrane
  • Mean squared displacement
  • Metabolism
  • Outer membrane
  • Periplasm
  • Single particle tracking
  • Velocity autocorrelation function
  • Viscoelastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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