University of Cambridge > > DAMTP Statistical Physics and Soft Matter Seminar > How constraints and chirality guide self-organisation in living systems

How constraints and chirality guide self-organisation in living systems

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Sarah Loos.

Living matter has the fascinating ability to autonomously organise itself in space and time. Self-organisation refers typically to the fact that local interactions among some “microscopic” units enable an emerging dynamic that is seemingly coordinated on “macroscopic” length scales much larger than these units. Classical examples are the interactions of actin and actin-binding molecules within the eukaryotic cell cortex, of cells within tissues or of entire organisms interacting within populations. While details of each self-organisation phenomenon will depend on the concrete system, mechanistic insights can still be developed by identifying generic features that are shared among systems – an abstraction that physics approaches provide many useful tools for. Two such generic features this talk focuses on are mechanical constraints and broken chiral symmetry, which are both ubiquitous in biological systems. Specifically, we will discuss the impact of mechanical constraints in guiding tissue morphogenesis in the flour beetle, the role of chirality in guiding the emergent properties of living crystals made of starfish embryos, as well as a mechanism to robustly establish a left-right body axis during nematode development when both, mechanical constraints and chirality, act in concert.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Statistical Physics and Soft Matter Seminar series.

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