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The geometric basis of morphogenesis

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In the landmark 1952 paper, “The chemical basis of morphogenesis”, Alan Turing proposed reactions between diffusing substances as a general model for biological pattern formation. In the development of his model, Turing explicitly abstracted from the growth of the tissues under consideration. Contrary to this assumption, however, feedback between patterning and growth is essential for diverse morphogenetic processes in nature. This feedback can be formulated in geometric terms. Biochemical and biomechanical factors are not eliminated, but treated as a lower level of abstraction, from which the geometric characteristics of patterning emerge. In addition, the properties of ambient space are inherently incorporated as a morphogenetic factor. This geometric viewpoint unifies many morphogenetic processes, ranging from the initiation of lateral roots to phyllotaxis and the development of diverse leaf shapes.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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