Mathematical model of fruit fly eyes developed

January 13th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 13 (ANI): Researchers at Northwestern University have created a functional equation, using only two parameters, to show how cells pack together to create the eyes of Drosophila, better known as the fruit fly.

The scientists anticipate that the pared-down equation can be applied to different kinds of tissues, leading to advances in regenerative medicine.

The study was led by Sascha Hilgenfeldt, associate professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics and mechanical engineering.

The cells in a fruit flys eye act more like foam in that the structure of the cells depends only on the energy of their interfaces, or the surface where the cells touch, that energy is divided into two parts the energy from the stretching of the cells membranes and the energy of the glue (the adhesion molecules) that holds the neighbouring cell membranes together.

The researchers took those two factors and created a quantitative model of cell geometries in the fruit fly retina. So instead of needing to know all the different cell factors to create the model, he just needed the two energy components to create the model.

Its one of the most quantitative models Ive seen for a biological system. For this system, mainly all you need to know is the interfacial energies and everything falls into place, Hilgenfeldt said.

The model will understand how the presence of the glue energy changes the shape of the eye.

It is very promising for quantitative science to be able to do something about these complex biological systems, Hilgenfeldt said.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (ANI)

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