che·​mo·​tax·​is | \ ˌkē-mō-ˈtak-səs How to pronounce chemotaxis (audio) \

Definition of chemotaxis

: orientation or movement of an organism or cell in relation to chemical agents

Examples of chemotaxis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Instead, some bacteria raced through the maze substantially more quickly than others, largely because of varying aptitude for moving toward higher concentrations of food, a process called chemotaxis. Quanta Magazine, 4 Sep. 2019 Tackling the traveling salesman problem with chemotaxis is a nice example of when the suboptimal is optimal, says Bartumeus. Rachel Ehrenberg, WIRED, 11 Apr. 2011

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chemotaxis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of chemotaxis

circa 1887, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for chemotaxis

borrowed from German Chemotaxis, from chemo- chemo- + -taxis -taxis

Note: The German term was introduced by the botanist and plant physiologist Wilhelm Pfeffer (1845-1920) in "Über chemotaktische Bewegungen von Bakterien, Flagellaten und Volvocineen," Untersuchungen aus dem Botanischen Institut zu Tübingen, Band 2, Heft 3 (1888), p. 583. In an earlier publication in the same journal (Band 1, Heft 3 [1884], p. 474) Pfeffer used the form Chymitaxis.

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The first known use of chemotaxis was circa 1887

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Cite this Entry

“Chemotaxis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for chemotaxis


che·​mo·​tax·​is | \ -ˈtak-səs How to pronounce chemotaxis (audio) \
plural chemotaxes\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce chemotaxis (audio) \

Medical Definition of chemotaxis

: orientation or movement of an organism or cell in relation to chemical agents

More from Merriam-Webster on chemotaxis Encyclopedia article about chemotaxis


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