Department Colloquium | Organ Size, Inflationary Embryology, and the Statistical Physics of Tissue Growth
David Lubensky (U-M Physics)
One of the enduring mysteries of biology is how organs know to stop growing at the correct size and how those sizes are coordinated so that the animal retains the correct proportions. Here, we discuss several studies that in different ways address the precision with which organ size can be controlled. We first show that there are severe limits to the coordination of the sizes of left and right organs (like the left and right wings of a fruit fly) by chemical signals, suggesting that organ size is set primarily autonomously. We then consider the noisy dynamics of the growth of individuals tissues in presence of various feedback laws. We find that only certain forms of mechanical feedback can specify a unique organ size. We also show that, even in the simplest, homogeneous case, stochastic growth of an elastic tissue has unexpectedly rich behavior: For example, it exhibits power law correlation functions, reminiscent of those seen in cosmological models, and soft modes that allow for diffusive growth of labelled clones of cells.
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