Evolution and morphogenesis of differentiated multicellular organisms: autonomously generated diffusion gradients for positional information

J. Knabe, M. Schilstra, C.L. Nehaniv

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    37 Citations (Scopus)
    78 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Development is the powerful process involving a genome in
    the transformation from one egg cell to a multicellular organism
    with many cell types. The dividing cells manage to
    organize and assign themselves special, differentiated roles
    in a reliable manner, creating a spatio-temporal pattern and
    division of labor. This despite the fact that little positional
    information may be available to them initially to guide this
    patterning. Inspired by a model of developmental biologist
    L. Wolpert, we simulate this situation in an evolutionary setting
    where individuals have to grow into “French flag” patterns.
    The cells in our model exist in a 2-layer Potts model
    physical environment. Controlled by continuous genetic regulatory
    networks, identical for all cells of one individual, the
    cells can individually differ in parameters including target
    volume, shape, orientation, and diffusion. Intercellular communication
    is possible via secretion and sensing of diffusing
    morphogens. Evolved individuals growing from a single cell
    can develop the French flag pattern by setting up and maintaining
    asymmetric morphogen gradients – a behavior predicted
    by several theoretical models.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationArtificial Life XI
    Subtitle of host publicationProcs of the 11th Int Conf on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems.
    PublisherMIT Press
    Pages321-328
    ISBN (Print)978-0-262-75017-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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