Discrete and continuous models for heterocyst differentiation in growing filaments of blue-green bacteria

Acta Biotheoretica 36 (4) (1987)
Heterocyst spacing in blue-green bacteria is widely assumed to be due to a diffusible inhibitor. The inhibitor, a nitrogen-rich compound, probably glutamine, is produced via the N2-fixing enzymes of the heterocyst and in turn serves to suppress the induction of these enzymes and of the differentiation of vegetative cells to heterocysts. This simple morphogenetic mechanism operating in growing cellular filaments ofAnabaena species is investigated on the basis of a continuous and a discrete cellular model, as well as by cell-by-cell simulation of the inhibitor transport. The resulting distances between heterocysts and kinetics of their production are compared with observations, and the values of physical parameters are estimated from the models.
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