Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Overall Objectives

Overall Objectives

Our general aim in MOSAIC is to identify key principles of organism development in close collaboration with biologists by constructing a new generation of models based on explicit mathematical and computational representations of forms. For this we will develop a dual modeling approach where conceptual models will be used to identify self-organizing principles and realistic models will be used to test non-trivial genetic and physical hypotheses in silico and assess them against observations. This will contribute to extend the domain of systems biology to developmental systems and help interpret where possible the vast amount of geometric, molecular and physical data collected on growing forms. The main originality of the project lies in its integrated approach: we want to face the complexity of living organisms by developing an integrated view of form development, relying on the study of the interaction between coupled processes.

While our approach will mainly focus on plant development at different scales, the MOSAIC project will also consider the morphogenesis of model animal systems, such as ascidians (A large class of marine animals (also called sea-squirt) in the phylum of Tunicates that is close to vertebrates, shares a particularly well conserved developmental program and that is a good model to study the development of chordates.), to cross-fertilize the approaches and to open the possibility to identify abstractions and principles that are relevant to morphogenesis of living forms in general. Our work will focus on how physical and chemical processes interact within the medium defined by the form and feedback on its development. We will seek to integrate both mechanistic and stochastic components in our models to account for biological variability in shape development. In the long run, the team's results are expected to contribute to set up a new vision of morphogenesis in biology, at the origin of a new physics of living matter, and based on a more mechanistic understanding of the link between genes, forms and their environment.

To achieve the team's objectives, we will develop over the next 12 years a project focused on the definition of a consistent mathematical framework to formalize form growth and on the development of corresponding computational algorithms. The mathematical framework will extend classical dynamical systems to dynamical systems with a dynamical state-structure, i.e. to dynamical systems whose state is represented as a graph of components that may change in time. A similar approach was successfully developed in the last two decades in the restricted context of branching organisms and plant development. We now want to extend it to more general forms, and address the diversity of associated new and stimulating computational challenges. For this, we will organize our research program into three main research axes.