Atoms of multistationarity in chemical reaction networks Academic Article uri icon


  • Chemical reaction systems are dynamical systems that arise in chemical engineering and systems biology. In this work, we consider the question of whether the minimal (in a precise sense) multistationary chemical reaction networks, which we propose to call 'atoms of multistationarity,' characterize the entire set of multistationary networks. Our main result states that the answer to this question is 'yes' in the context of fully open continuous-flow stirred-tank reactors (CFSTRs), which are networks in which all chemical species take part in the inflow and outflow. In order to prove this result, we show that if a subnetwork admits multiple steady states, then these steady states can be lifted to a larger network, provided that the two networks share the same stoichiometric subspace. We also prove an analogous result when a smaller network is obtained from a larger network by 'removing species.' Our results provide the mathematical foundation for a technique used by Siegal- Gaskins et al. of establishing bistability by way of 'network ancestry.' Additionally, our work provides sufficient conditions for establishing multistationarity by way of atoms and moreover reduces the problem of classifying multistationary CFSTRs to that of cataloging atoms of multistationarity. As an application, we enumerate and classify all 386 bimolecular and reversible two-reaction networks. Of these, exactly 35 admit multiple positive steady states. Moreover, each admits a unique minimal multistationary subnetwork, and these subnetworks form a poset (with respect to the relation of 'removing species') which has 11 minimal elements (the atoms of multistationarity). 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Joshi, B., & Shiu, A.

citation count

  • 61

complete list of authors

  • Joshi, Badal||Shiu, Anne

publication date

  • January 2013