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Proc Biol Sci. 2001 Jun 22;268(1473):1307-13.

Stochastic noise interferes coherently with a model biological clock and produces specific dynamic behaviour.

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Institute of Nuclear Physics, Department of Physics, Darmstadt University of Technology, Schlossgartenstrasse 9, D-64289 Darmstadt, Germany.


The influence of noise is unavoidable in all living systems. Its impact on a model of a biological clock, normally running in regular oscillating modes, is examined. It is shown that in a specific system in which endogenous rhythmicity is produced by a beat oscillator acting on a feedback coupled metabolic pool system, noise can act coherently to produce unexpected dynamic behaviour, running from regular over pseudo-regular to irregular time-structures. If the biological system consists of a set of identical weakly coupled cells, stochasticity may lead to phase decoupling producing irregular spatio-temporal patterns. Synchronization via phase resetting can be achieved by external short-time temperature pulses. Explicit results are obtained for the well-studied circadian photosynthesis oscillations in plants performing crassulacean acid metabolism. Because of the generic structure of the underlying nonlinear dynamics they can, however, be regarded as a general property of the influence of noise on nonlinear excitable systems with fixed points occuring close to limit cycles.

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