Mathematical modelling of fungi-initiated siderophore-iron interactions

Muhamed Choudhury, P.M.J. Trevelyan, Graeme Boswell

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    Nearly all life forms require iron to survive and function. Microorganisms utilize a number of mechanisms to acquire iron including the production of siderophores, which are organic compounds that combine with ferric iron into forms that are easily absorbed by the microorganism. There has been significant experimental investigation into the role, distribution and function of siderophores in fungi but until now no predictive tools have been developed to qualify or quantify fungi-initiated siderophore-iron interactions. In this investigation, we construct the first mathematical models of siderophore function related to fungi. Initially, a set of partial differential equations are calibrated and integrated numerically to generate quantitative predictions on the spatio-temporal distributions of siderophores and related populations. This model is then reduced to a simpler set of equations that are solved algebraically giving rise to solutions that predict the distributions of siderophores and resultant compounds. These algebraic results require the calculation of zeros of cross products of Bessel functions and thus new algebraic expansions are derived for a variety of different cases that are in agreement with numerically computed values. The results of the modelling are consistent with experimental data while the analysis provides new quantitative predictions on the time scales involved between siderophore production and iron uptake along with how the total amount of iron acquired by the fungus depends on its environment. The implications to bio-technological applications are briefly discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)515-550
    Number of pages36
    JournalMathematical Medicine and Biology
    Issue number4
    Early online date14 Jul 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020


    • mathematical model
    • partial differential equations
    • numerical solution
    • ferric iron uptake


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