Self-Organization of Biological Systems


Luciano Marcon & Jelena Raspopovic

We are a interdisciplinary systems biology team based in the laboratory of Patrick Müller at the FML research institute of the Max Planck society in Tübingen, Germany. The main goal of our research is to identify which mechanisms drive the formation of self-organizing dissipative structures in multicellular biological systems. We do so by combining theoretical and experimental work to understand which gene regulatory networks and physical cellular processes can create self-organizing multicellular behaviours during embryonic development and in-vitro cell cultures. On the theoretical side, we are developing tools to automate mathematical analysis that screens for reaction-diffusion networks that can produce different self-organizing behaviours such as the formation of periodic patterns, oscillations and travelling waves. On the experimental side, we perform 3D live imaging by using lightsheet microscopy to capture the dynamics of fluorescent reporters in normal situations and in perturbation experiments. We combine these tools to study embryonic development, the symmetry breaking of mouse embryonic stem cell aggregates and to design self-organizing synthetic circuits in E.Coli colonies. See the research section for more details.

"It is by avoiding the rapid decay into the inert state of ‘equilibrium’ that an organism appears so enigmatic."