Particle-based reaction-diffusion algorithms facilitate the modeling of the diffusional motion of individual molecules and the reactions between them in cellular environments. A physically realistic model, depending on the system at hand and the questions asked, would require different levels of modeling detail such as particle diffusion, geometrical confinement, particle volume exclusion or particle-particle interaction potentials. Higher levels of detail usually correspond to increased number of parameters and higher computational cost. Certain systems however, require these investments to be modeled adequately. Here we present a review on the current field of particle-based reaction-diffusion software packages operating on continuous space. Four nested levels of modeling detail are identified that capture incrementing amount of detail. Their applicability to different biological questions is discussed, arching from straight diffusion simulations to sophisticated and expensive models that bridge towards coarse grained molecular dynamics.
Keywords: Brownian dynamics; Confinement; Crowding; Excluded volume; Particle simulation; Reaction-diffusion.