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Biosystems. 2012 Sep;109(3):412-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 May 14.

On integrating experimental and theoretical models to determine physical mechanisms of morphogenesis.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Researchers in developmental biology are increasingly recognizing the value of theoretical models in studies of morphogenesis. However, creating and testing realistic quantitative models for morphogenetic processes can be an extremely challenging task. The focus of this paper is on models for the mechanics of morphogenesis. Models for these problems often must include large changes in geometry, leading to highly nonlinear problems with the possibility of multiple solutions that must be sorted out using experimental data. Here, we illustrate our approach to these problems using the specific example of head fold formation in the early chick embryo. The interplay between experimental and theoretical results is emphasized throughout, as the model is gradually refined. Some of the limitations inherent in theoretical/computational modeling of biological systems are also discussed.

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