Chemotaxis – from Basic Physics to Biology

International Workshop
13 - 17 May 2024

Taking a closer look at natural survival skills of most living creatures on earth, from bacteria to humans, one of the common traits is migration to search for food. Understanding the behaviour of such microsystems requires a multidisciplinary approach, with biology, physics and chemistry being closely interlinked.

This workshop focuses on biological and artificial systems migrating in diffusion-based gradients: Bacteria use chemical gradients to determine the location of food sources. The motility mechanisms they employ rely on a temporal samplingmechanism to determine the direction of the gradient. However, the mechanisms used by eukaryotes and multicellular organisms are much less understood.  Due to the large variety of eukaryotic cells, the mechanisms can differ strongly.

This workshop aims at exploring common traits among these different organisms and compare them to artificial systems in order to understand physical influences such as flow and phoretic forces.

Given the important role chemotaxis plays in many large-scale biological processes, such as wound healing, neuronal patterning, fertilization, embryonal development and cancer metastasis, we aim at bringing all these different studies together, and investigate the physical groundwork.

Specific questions that will arise from the discussions and interdisciplinary exposure:

  • Common traits / differences between the different actors
  • Physical basics that underlay all biological systems equally
  • Where can artificial systems help the understanding
  • The underlying mechanisms for each system and their relationship to information theory


We plan an on-site workshop. Talks and posters will exclusively be presented on-site.

Topics include

  • Chemotaxis of algae
  • Chemotaxis of eukaryotes
  • Chemotaxis of prokaryotes
  • Chemotaxis of artificial systems
  • Modelling of behaviour in gradients
  • Tactic behaviours in a broader sense
  • Generation and evolution of gradients
  • Interactions with the broader environment

Invited speakers

Judith Armitage (UK)
Giuseppe Battaglia (UK)
Thierry Emonet (US)
Robert Endres (UK)
Benjamin Friedrich (DE)
Ramin Golestanian (DE)
Richa Karmakar (IN)
Christina Kurzthaler (DE)
Hans Othmer (US)
Ignacio Pagonabarraga (ES)
Kevin John Painter (IT)
Wouter-Jan Rappel (US)
Christina Roggatz (DE)
Jens-Uwe Sommer (DE)
Kirsty Wan (UK)
Gilad Yossifon (IL)


Scientific Coordinators

Robert Insall
(University College London, UK)

Juliane Simmchen
(University of Strathclyde, UK)


Katrin Lantsch

(Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems Dresden, Germany)


The application deadline was on 7th April 2024. The participants list is closed.

The registration fee for the international workshop is 200 Euro and should be paid by all participants.

Costs for accommodation and meals will be covered by the Max Planck Institute.

Limited funding is available to partially cover travel expenses.

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Scientific Program Structure

Monday, 13th May 2024, registration 08:00 to 16:30
Monday, 13th May, 10:00 to Friday, 17th May, 13:00: scientific program

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How to reach us


Useful information for your way to the venue.

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