Heterogeneous anomalous transport in cellular and molecular biology

Mykola Korabel, Thomas Andrew Waigh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


It is well established that a wide variety of phenomena in cellular and molecular biology involve anomalous transport e.g. the statistics for the motility of cells and molecules are fractional and do not conform to the archetypes of simple diffusion or ballistic transport. Recent research demonstrates that anomalous transport is in many cases heterogeneous in both time and space. Thus single anomalous exponents and single generalized diffusion coefficients are unable to satisfactorily describe many crucial phenomena in cellular and molecular biology. We consider advances in the field of heterogeneous anomalous transport (HAT) highlighting: experimental techniques (single molecule methods, microscopy, image analysis, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, inelastic neutron scattering, and NMR), theoretical tools for data analysis (robust statistical methods such as first passage probabilities, survival analysis, different varieties of mean square displacements, etc), analytic theory and generative theoretical models based on simulations. Special emphasis is made on high throughput analysis techniques based on machine learning and neural networks. Furthermore, we consider anomalous transport in the context of microrheology and the heterogeneous viscoelasticity of complex fluids. HAT in the wavefronts of reaction-diffusion systems is also considered since it plays an important role in morphogenesis and signalling. In addition, we present specific examples from cellular biology including embryonic cells, leukocytes, cancer cells, bacterial cells, bacterial biofilms, and eukaryotic microorganisms. Case studies from molecular biology include DNA, membranes, endosomal transport, endoplasmic reticula, mucins, globular proteins, and amyloids.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages56
JournalReports on Progress in Physics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2023


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