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Upside down and inside out: the biomechanics of cell sheet folding

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Deformations of cell sheets are ubiquitous in early animal development, often arising from a complex and poorly understood interplay of cell shape changes, division, and migration. In this talk I will describe an approach to understanding such problems based on perhaps the simplest example of cell sheet folding: the “inversion” process of the algal genus Volvox, during which spherical embryos literally turn themselves inside out through a process hypothesized to arise from cell shape changes alone. Through a combination of light sheet microscopy and elasticity theory a quantitative understanding of this process is now emerging.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Physics Society series.

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