Predicting the dynamics of bacterial growth inhibition by ribosome-targeting antibiotics

Philip Greulich, Jakub Dolezal, Matthew Scott, Martin R. Evans, Rosalind J. Allen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding how antibiotics inhibit bacteria can help to reduce antibiotic use and hence avoid antimicrobial resistance-yet few theoretical models exist for bacterial growth inhibition by a clinically relevant antibiotic treatment regimen. In particular, in the clinic, antibiotic treatment is time-dependent. Here, we use a theoretical model, previously applied to steady-state bacterial growth, to predict the dynamical response of a bacterial cell to a time-dependent dose of ribosome-targeting antibiotic. Our results depend strongly on whether the antibiotic shows reversible transport and/or low-affinity ribosome binding ('low-affinity antibiotic') or, in contrast, irreversible transport and/or high affinity ribosome binding ('high-affinity antibiotic'). For low-affinity antibiotics, our model predicts that growth inhibition depends on the duration of the antibiotic pulse, and can show a transient period of very fast growth following removal of the antibiotic. For high-affinity antibiotics, growth inhibition depends on peak dosage rather than dose duration, and the model predicts a pronounced post-antibiotic effect, due to hysteresis, in which growth can be suppressed for long times after the antibiotic dose has ended. These predictions are experimentally testable and may be of clinical significance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065005
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2017


  • antibiotics
  • bacterial growth
  • dynamical systems
  • ribosomes
  • pharmacodynamics


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