|Abstract:Adaptation refers to the biological phenomenon where living systems change their internal states in response to changes in their environments in order to maintain certain key functions critical for their survival and fitness. Adaptation is one of the most ubiquitous and arguably one of the most fundamental properties of living systems. It occurs throughout all biological scales, from adaptation of populations of species over evolutionary time to adaptation of a single cell to different environmental stresses during its life span. In this article, we review some of the recent progress made in understanding molecular mechanisms of cellular level adaptation. We take the minimalist (or the physicist) approach and study the simplest systems that exhibit generic adaptive behaviors. We focus on understanding the basic biochemical interaction networks in living matter that are responsible for adaptation dynamics. By combining theoretical modeling with quantitative experimentation, we demonstrate universal features in adaptation as well as important differences in different cellular systems, including chemotaxis in bacterium cells (Escherichia coli) and eukaryotic cells (Dictyostelium). Future work in extending the modeling framework to study adaptation in more complex systems such as sensory neurons are discussed.