We rigorously prove results on spiky patterns for the Gierer–Meinhardt system (Kybernetik (Berlin) 12:30–39, 1972) with a jump discontinuity in the diffusion coefficient of the inhibitor. Using numerical computations in combination with a Turing-type instability analysis, this system has been investigated by Benson, Maini, and Sherratt (Math. Comput. Model. 17:29–34, 1993a; Bull. Math. Biol. 55:365–384, 1993b; IMA J. Math. Appl. Med. Biol. 9:197–213, 1992).
Firstly, we show the existence of an interior spike located away from the jump discontinuity, deriving a necessary condition for the position of the spike. In particular, we show that the spike is located in one-and-only-one of the two subintervals created by the jump discontinuity of the inhibitor diffusivity. This localization principle for a spike is a new effect which does not occur for homogeneous diffusion coefficients. Further, we show that this interior spike is stable.
Secondly, we establish the existence of a spike whose distance from the jump discontinuity is of the same order as its spatial extent. The existence of such a spike near the jump discontinuity is the second new effect presented in this paper.
To derive these new effects in a mathematically rigorous way, we use analytical tools like Liapunov–Schmidt reduction and nonlocal eigenvalue problems which have been developed in our previous work (J. Nonlinear Sci. 11:415–458, 2001).
Finally, we confirm our results by numerical computations for the dynamical behavior of the system. We observe a moving spike which converges to a stationary spike located in the interior of one of the subintervals or near the jump discontinuity.