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Textbook concepts of diffusion-versus kinetic-control are well-defined for reaction-kinetics involving macroscopic concentrations of diffusive reactants that are adequately described by rate-constants—the inverse of the mean-first-passage-time to the reaction-event. In contradiction, an open important question is whether the mean-first-passage-time alone is a sufficient measure for biochemical reactions that involve nanomolar reactant concentrations. Here, using a simple yet generic, exactly solvable model we study the effect of diffusion and chemical reaction-limitations on the full reaction-time distribution. We show that it has a complex structure with four distinct regimes delineated by three characteristic time scales spanning a window of several decades. Consequently, the reaction-times are defocused: no unique time-scale characterises the reaction-process, diffusion- and kinetic-control can no longer be disentangled, and it is imperative to know the full reaction-time distribution. We introduce the concepts of geometry- and reaction-control, and also quantify each regime by calculating the corresponding reaction depth.

Effects of the target aspect ratio and intrinsic reactivity onto diffusive search in bounded domains
(2017)

Westudy the mean first passage time (MFPT) to a reaction event on a specific site in a cylindrical geometry—characteristic, for instance, for bacterial cells, with a concentric inner cylinder representing the nuclear region of the bacterial cell. Asimilar problem emerges in the description of a diffusive search by a transcription factor protein for a specific binding region on a single strand of DNA.We develop a unified theoretical approach to study the underlying boundary value problem which is based on a self-consistent approximation of the mixed boundary condition. Our approach permits us to derive explicit, novel, closed-form expressions for the MFPT valid for a generic setting with an arbitrary relation between the system parameters.Weanalyse this general result in the asymptotic limits appropriate for the above-mentioned biophysical problems. Our investigation reveals the crucial role of the target aspect ratio and of the intrinsic reactivity of the binding region, which were disregarded in previous studies. Theoretical predictions are confirmed by numerical simulations.

We study the first passage statistics to adsorbing boundaries of a Brownian motion in bounded two-dimensional domains of different shapes and configurations of the adsorbing and reflecting boundaries. From extensive numerical analysis we obtain the probability P(omega) distribution of the random variable omega = tau(1)/(tau(1) + tau(2)), which is a measure for how similar the first passage times tau(1) and tau(2) are of two independent realizations of a Brownian walk starting at the same location. We construct a chart for each domain, determining whether P(omega) represents a unimodal, bell-shaped form, or a bimodal, M-shaped behavior. While in the former case the mean first passage time (MFPT) is a valid characteristic of the first passage behavior, in the latter case it is an insufficient measure for the process. Strikingly we find a distinct turnover between the two modes of P(omega), characteristic for the domain shape and the respective location of absorbing and reflective boundaries. Our results demonstrate that large fluctuations of the first passage times may occur frequently in two-dimensional domains, rendering quite vague the general use of the MFPT as a robust measure of the actual behavior even in bounded domains, in which all moments of the first passage distribution exist.

Astandard approach to study time-dependent stochastic processes is the power spectral density (PSD), an ensemble-averaged property defined as the Fourier transform of the autocorrelation function of the process in the asymptotic limit of long observation times, T → ∞. In many experimental situations one is able to garner only relatively few stochastic time series of finite T, such that practically neither an ensemble average nor the asymptotic limit T → ∞ can be achieved. To accommodate for a meaningful analysis of such finite-length data we here develop the framework of single-trajectory spectral analysis for one of the standard models of anomalous diffusion, scaled Brownian motion.Wedemonstrate that the frequency dependence of the single-trajectory PSD is exactly the same as for standard Brownian motion, which may lead one to the erroneous conclusion that the observed motion is normal-diffusive. However, a distinctive feature is shown to be provided by the explicit dependence on the measurement time T, and this ageing phenomenon can be used to deduce the anomalous diffusion exponent.Wealso compare our results to the single-trajectory PSD behaviour of another standard anomalous diffusion process, fractional Brownian motion, and work out the commonalities and differences. Our results represent an important step in establishing singletrajectory PSDs as an alternative (or complement) to analyses based on the time-averaged mean squared displacement.

In the scenario of the narrow escape problem (NEP) a particle diffuses in a finite container and eventually leaves it through a small 'escape window' in the otherwise impermeable boundary, once it arrives to this window and crosses an entropic barrier at the entrance to it. This generic problem is mathematically identical to that of a diffusion-mediated reaction with a partially-reactive site on the container's boundary. Considerable knowledge is available on the dependence of the mean first-reaction time (FRT) on the pertinent parameters. We here go a distinct step further and derive the full FRT distribution for the NEP. We demonstrate that typical FRTs may be orders of magnitude shorter than the mean one, thus resulting in a strong defocusing of characteristic temporal scales. We unveil the geometry-control of the typical times, emphasising the role of the initial distance to the target as a decisive parameter. A crucial finding is the further FRT defocusing due to the barrier, necessitating repeated escape or reaction attempts interspersed with bulk excursions. These results add new perspectives and offer a broad comprehension of various features of the by-now classical NEP that are relevant for numerous biological and technological systems.

A single predator charging a herd of prey: effects of self volume and predator-prey decision-making
(2016)

We study the degree of success of a single predator hunting a herd of prey on a two-dimensional square lattice landscape. We explicitly consider the self volume of the prey restraining their dynamics on the lattice. The movement of both predator and prey is chosen to include an intelligent, decision making step based on their respective sighting ranges, the radius in which they can detect the other species (prey cannot recognise each other besides the self volume interaction): after spotting each other the motion of prey and predator turns from a nearest neighbour random walk into directed escape or chase, respectively. We consider a large range of prey densities and sighting ranges and compute the mean first passage time for a predator to catch a prey as well as characterise the effective dynamics of the hunted prey. We find that the prey's sighting range dominates their life expectancy and the predator profits more from a bad eyesight of the prey than from his own good eye sight. We characterise the dynamics in terms of the mean distance between the predator and the nearest prey. It turns out that effectively the dynamics of this distance coordinate can be captured in terms of a simple Ornstein–Uhlenbeck picture. Reducing the many-body problem to a simple two-body problem by imagining predator and nearest prey to be connected by an effective Hookean bond, all features of the model such as prey density and sighting ranges merge into the effective binding constant.

Effects of the target aspect ratio and intrinsic reactivity onto diffusive search in bounded domains
(2017)

We study the mean first passage time (MFPT) to a reaction event on a specific site in a cylindrical geometry-characteristic, for instance, for bacterial cells, with a concentric inner cylinder representing the nuclear region of the bacterial cell. A similar problem emerges in the description of a diffusive search by a transcription factor protein for a specific binding region on a single strand of DNA. We develop a unified theoretical approach to study the underlying boundary value problem which is based on a self-consistent approximation of the mixed boundary condition. Our approach permits us to derive explicit, novel, closed-form expressions for the MFPT valid for a generic setting with an arbitrary relation between the system parameters. We analyse this general result in the asymptotic limits appropriate for the above-mentioned biophysical problems. Our investigation reveals the crucial role of the target aspect ratio and of the intrinsic reactivity of the binding region, which were disregarded in previous studies. Theoretical predictions are confirmed by numerical simulations.

Stochastic models based on random diffusivities, such as the diffusing-diffusivity approach, are popular concepts for the description of non-Gaussian diffusion in heterogeneous media. Studies of these models typically focus on the moments and the displacement probability density function. Here we develop the complementary power spectral description for a broad class of random-diffusivity processes. In our approach we cater for typical single particle tracking data in which a small number of trajectories with finite duration are garnered. Apart from the diffusing-diffusivity model we study a range of previously unconsidered random-diffusivity processes, for which we obtain exact forms of the probability density function. These new processes are different versions of jump processes as well as functionals of Brownian motion. The resulting behaviour subtly depends on the specific model details. Thus, the central part of the probability density function may be Gaussian or non-Gaussian, and the tails may assume Gaussian, exponential, log-normal, or even power-law forms. For all these models we derive analytically the moment-generating function for the single-trajectory power spectral density. We establish the generic 1/f²-scaling of the power spectral density as function of frequency in all cases. Moreover, we establish the probability density for the amplitudes of the random power spectral density of individual trajectories. The latter functions reflect the very specific properties of the different random-diffusivity models considered here. Our exact results are in excellent agreement with extensive numerical simulations.

We consider the first-passage problem for N identical independent particles that are initially released uniformly in a finite domain Ω and then diffuse toward a reactive area Γ, which can be part of the outer boundary of Ω or a reaction centre in the interior of Ω. For both cases of perfect and partial reactions, we obtain the explicit formulas for the first two moments of the fastest first-passage time (fFPT), i.e., the time when the first out of the N particles reacts with Γ. Moreover, we investigate the full probability density of the fFPT. We discuss a significant role of the initial condition in the scaling of the average fFPT with the particle number N, namely, a much stronger dependence (1/N and 1/N² for partially and perfectly reactive targets, respectively), in contrast to the well known inverse-logarithmic behaviour found when all particles are released from the same fixed point. We combine analytic solutions with scaling arguments and stochastic simulations to rationalise our results, which open new perspectives for studying the relevance of multiple searchers in various situations of molecular reactions, in particular, in living cells.