I am interested in understanding how independent agents self-organize to produce macroscopic patterns, particularly during the early development of organisms. My focus has been on zebrafish (Danio rerio
), a black and gold fish with biomedical and evolutionary applications. Its characteristic stripes form as the fish develops due to the self-organizing interactions of several types of pigment cells. My goal is to identify wild-type interactions, help experimentalists link genetic changes to altered cell behavior in mutations, and shed light on how fish with different patterns in the Danio
genus are related.
Because patterns emerge from cell interactions, an agent-based approach is natural: we model cells as point masses and couple deterministic movement (by ODEs) with noisy rules for cell birth, death, and transitions in type on growing 2-D domains. Our models allow us to propose unknown signals behind cell behavior and offer experimentally-testable predictions about Danio
evolution and zebrafish mutations.
Collaborators: Björn Sandstede