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MOSAIC Research team

MOrphogenesis Simulation and Analysis In siliCo

Team presentation

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 develop a dual modeling approach where conceptual models are used to identify self-organizing principles and realistic models 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.  

While our approach will mainly focus on plant development at different scales, the MOSAIC team will also consider the morphogenesis of model animal systems, such as ascidians, 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.

Research themes

To achieve the team's objectives, we have organized our research program into three main research axes:

- Axis1: Representation of biological organisms and their forms.
In this research axis, we formalize of the concept of form, \textit{i.e.} give a mathematical definition of what is a form and how it can change in time, and develop efficient algorithms to construct corresponding computational representations from observations, to manipulate them and associate local molecular and physical information with them.
- Axis2: Data-driven models of form development. 
Our aim in this second research axis is to develop models of physiological patterning and bio-physical growth to simulate the development of 3D biological forms in a realistic way and
- Axis3: Plasticity and robustness of forms.
In this research axis, building on the insights gained from axes 1 and 2 on the mechanisms driving form development, we aim to explore the mechanistic origin of form plasticity and robustness. At the ontogenetic scale, we study the ability of specific developmental mechanisms to buffer, or even to exploit, biological noise during morphogenesis. At the phylogenetic scale, we investigate new connections that can be drawn from the use of a better understanding of form development mechanisms in the evolution of forms.

International and industrial relations

The team regularly collaborates with  a number of foreign Universities and partners, among which U. Cambridge (UK) , U. Calgary (Canada), U. Sidi Bel Abes (Algeria).

Keywords: Plant modelling Morphogenesis Growth models Dynamic system with dynamic structures Stochastic processes Fractals Selfsimilarity