Physicists are developing models that describe long growth in biological systems

Saarland University physicists have accepted these ideas and have developed mathematical models that can be used to describe how biological systems measure their length.

Graduate students, Frederick Falls, who raised the topic in his thesis, now publish the results in the highly ranked Physical Review E journal in an article co-authored by Professor of Biological Cruise Theoretical Physics


The scientists decided to explore axons as their model system. Axon is a key component of neuron neurons. Axons function as connections between nerve cells and allow the passage of electrical signals from one neuron to another.

Because the length of axons can vary from a few microns to several meters of an organism, of course, there are several ways to control how long a particular axon must grow.

We were able to develop a mechanism model that explains how organisms do it. This model not only explains how nerve cells can determine their length but can also be summarized in other biological systems, explained Frederic Folts.

Molecular chemical signals that regulate growth behave in biological systems in this way: Molecules spread through the system as a chemical wave until they reach the end of the axon, Folz said.

Mathematical models:

When the frequency of the molecular wave returns to its original point is high, the biological structure through which the wave is short if the frequency of such a cycle is low, then it has a longer time to return to the chemical structure and hence is greater. Molecules require less time to pass a few microns in bacteria than to travel from root to crown of an oak tree. Physicists have described this mechanism using mathematical models.

The researchers suggest that biological systems, such as wood, humans or cells, can measure the frequency of this cycle and therefore can identify and thus control the length, say leaves or feet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *