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J Theor Biol. 2009 Aug 7;259(3):541-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.04.025. Epub 2009 May 8.

Exclusion processes on a growing domain.

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Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


A discrete model provides a useful framework for experimentalists to understand the interactions between growing tissues and other biological mechanisms. A cellular automata (CA) model with domain growth, cell motility and cell proliferation, based on cellular exclusion processes, is developed here. Average densities can be defined from the CA model and a continuum representation can be determined. The domain growth mechanism in the CA model gives rise to a Fokker-Planck equation in the corresponding continuum model, with a diffusive and a convective term. Deterministic continuum models derived from conservation laws do not include this diffusive term. The new diffusive term arises because of the stochasticity inherited from the CA mechanism for domain growth. We extend the models to multiple species and investigate the influence of the flux terms arising from the exclusion processes. The averaged CA agent densities are well approximated by the solution of nonlinear advection-diffusion equations, provided that the relative size of the proliferation processes to the diffusion processes is sufficiently small. This dual approach provides an understanding of the microscopic and macroscopic scales in a developmental process.

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