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KLI in the world: KLI Fellow Somya Mani will give a talk at the conferece Physics of Cell Fate Decisions, 13-16 May, to be held at ISTA Klosterneuburg

KLI Fellow Somya Mani will give a talk at the conference Physics of Cell Fate Decisions  (PCFD) held at Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA), Klosterneuburg, from 13-16 May 2024.

The PCFD conference is organized by ISTA, and aims to bring together various disciplines – including physics, information theory, applied mathematics, and data science – to explore a central problem of developmental biology: how cells integrate external signals and make fate decisions. The focus of the conference is on bridging the gap between the biological phenomena of interest and their theoretical, modeling, and rigorous data analysis treatments.

Somya’s talk is titled: A simple mathematical model to tease out links between tissue morphology and healing


Tissues within a multicellular organism have diverse forms: compare the fluid and disorganized mammalian blood with organized and contiguous epithelial sheets. Concurrently, tissues look notably similar across organisms: Consider animal epithelia versus plant epidermis, or mammalian muscle bundles versus plant vascular bundles. These morphological similarities are surprising because multicellular groups have evolved multiple times independently. Separately, a remarkable function common across organisms is tissue healing: even in poor regenerators such as mammals, adult tissues routinely heal from injuries. The cellular organization within tissues, as well as the ability of tissues to heal result from developmental processes: cells divide, die, differentiate and migrate according to cues they receive from their neighborhoods.

We ask two interlinked questions: How do multicellular organisms produce diverse forms of tissues using simple developmental processes? And how does tissue morphology relate to tissue regeneration? We address these questions using an agent based model of cell-fate where cells respond to different cellular neighborhoods using simple rules for cell division, death, differentiation and migration.

Our model produces a rich diversity of tissue morphologies: By simply tuning the density of cellular interactions and the propensity of cellular differentiation, we can produce tissues that go from being disordered and sparsely packed all the way to tissues organized into dense and contiguous domains. Importantly, tissue morphology was strongly predictive of tissue regeneration in the model: the ability to heal was highly enriched in densely packed, contiguous tissues. Our work generates experimentally testable predictions on the effects of manipulating cellular interactions on tissue morphology and in turn, on tissue regeneration.