How the leopard got his spots 14:10 Mon 14 Oct, 2013 :: 7.15 Ingkarni Wardli :: Dr Ed Green :: School of Mathematical Sciences
Patterns are everywhere in nature, whether they be the spots and stripes on animals' coats, or the intricate arrangement of different cell types in a tissue. But how do these patterns arise? Whilst every cell contains a plan of the organism in its genes, the cells need to organise themselves so that each knows what it should do to achieve this plan. Mathematics can help biologists explore how different types of signals might be used to control the patterning process. In this talk, I will introduce two simple mathematical theories of biological pattern formation: Turing patterns where, surprisingly, the essential ingredient for producing the pattern is diffusion, which usually tends to make things more uniform; and the Keller-Segel model, which provides a simple mechanism for the formation of multicellular structures from isolated single cells. These mathematical models can be used to explain how tissues develop, and why there are many spotted animals with a stripy tail, but no stripy animals with a spotted tail.