March 22, 1993 - March 22, 2026

  • Date:20MondayMarch 2023

    Animal morphogenesis as a dynamical phase transition

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    11:00 - 12:15
    Gerhard M.J. Schmidt Lecture Hall
    Prof. Erez Braun
    Department of Physics, Technion
    Faculty of Chemistry
    AbstractShow full text abstract about A remarkable hallmark of animal morphogenesis is the converg...»
    A remarkable hallmark of animal morphogenesis is the convergence of this dynamic process into a stereotypic viable organism. The current picture relies on biochemical patterning with a well-defined hierarchy of forward-driven processes. I will discuss the nature of developmental processes, arguing that morphogenesis is robust due to the synergistic dynamics of mechanical, biochemical and electrical processes. Hydra regeneration provides a unique experimental setup, allowing us to develop a physics framework for this pattern-formation process. We demonstrate that an external electric field can be tuned to drive morphogenesis in whole-body Hydra regeneration, backward and forward, around a critical point in a controlled manner. We show that calcium (Ca2+) fluctuations underlie Hydra morphogenesis. Utilizing an external electric field as a control, we study these fluctuations at the onset of morphogenesis showing their universal characteristics and their associations with the morphological dynamics. Our analysis shows that the Hydra's tissue resides near the onset of bistability and the external control modulates the dynamics near that onset. It paints a picture of morphogenesis analogous to a dynamical phase transition.