Computational Modelling Group

Seminar  12th October 2016 4 p.m.  Building 32, Room 3077, Highfield campus

Complex systems analysis of multicellularity

Prof George Bassel
School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham

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Biomolecular Organisation, Cellular Complexity, Complex Systems, Graph Theory, NGCM
Garvin Haslett

Prof. George Bassel

Life originated as single celled organisms, and multicellularity arose multiple times across evolutionary history. Increasingly more complex cellular arrangements were selected for, conferring organisms with an adaptive advantage. Uncovering the properties of these synergistic cellular configurations is central to identifying these optimized organizational principles, and to establish structure-function relationships. We have developed methods to capture all cellular associations within plant organs using a combination of high resolution 3D microscopy and computational image analysis. These multicellular organs are abstracted into cellular connectivity networks and analysed using a complex systems approach. This discretization of cellular organization enables the topological properties of global 3D cellular complexity in organs to be examined for the first time. We find that the organizing properties of global cellular interactions are tightly conserved both within and across species in diverse plant organs. Seemingly stochastic gene expression patterns can also be predicted based on the context of cells within organs. Finally, evidence for optimization in cellular configurations and transport processes have emerged as a result of natural selection. This provides a framework and insight to investigate the structure-function relationship at the level of cell organization within complex multicellular organs.