Modeling Morphogenesis in Multicellular Structures with Cell Complexes and L-systems

Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz and Brendan Lane


We consider computational modeling of biological systems that consist of discrete components arranged into linear structures. As time advances, these components may process information, communicate and divide. We show that: (1) the topological notion of cell complexes provides a useful framework for simulating information processing and flow between components; (2) an index-free notation exploiting topological adjacencies in the structure is needed to conveniently model structures in which the number of components changes (for example, due to cell division); and (3) Lindenmayer systems operating on cell complexes combine the above elements in the case of linear structures. These observations provide guidance for constructing L-systems and explain their modeling power. L-systems operating on cell complexes are illustrated by revisiting models of heterocyst formation in Anabaena and by presenting a simple model of leaf development focused on the morphogenetic role of the leaf margin.


Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz and Brendan Lane: Modeling Morphogenesis in Multicellular Structures with Cell Complexes and L-systems. In Pattern Formation in Morphogenesis, pp. 137-151, V. Capasso et al. (eds.), Springer, 2013.

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