Adaptation is a crucial biological function possessed by many sensory systems. Early work has shown that some influential equilibrium models can achieve accurate adaptation. However, recent studies indicate that there are close relationships between adaptation and nonequilibrium. In this paper, we provide an explanation of these two seemingly contradictory results based on Markov models with relatively simple networks. We show that as the nonequilibrium driving becomes stronger, the system under consideration will undergo a phase transition along a fixed direction: from non-adaptation to simple adaptation then to oscillatory adaptation, while the transition in the opposite direction is forbidden. This indicates that although adaptation may be observed in equilibrium systems, it tends to occur in systems far away from equilibrium. In addition, we find that nonequilibrium will improve the performance of adaptation by enhancing the adaptation efficiency. All these results provide a deeper insight into the connection between adaptation and nonequilibrium. Finally, we use a more complicated network model of bacterial chemotaxis to validate the main results of this paper.
Jia, C., & Qian, M. (2016). Nonequilibrium Enhances Adaptation Efficiency of Stochastic Biochemical Systems. PLoS ONE, 11(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155838