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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e54316. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054316. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

A flexible mathematical model platform for studying branching networks: experimentally validated using the model actinomycete, Streptomyces coelicolor.

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Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom.


Branching networks are ubiquitous in nature and their growth often responds to environmental cues dynamically. Using the antibiotic-producing soil bacterium Streptomyces as a model we have developed a flexible mathematical model platform for the study of branched biological networks. Streptomyces form large aggregates in liquid culture that can impair industrial antibiotic fermentations. Understanding the features of these could aid improvement of such processes. The model requires relatively few experimental values for parameterisation, yet delivers realistic simulations of Streptomyces pellet and is able to predict features, such as the density of hyphae, the number of growing tips and the location of antibiotic production within a pellet in response to pellet size and external nutrient supply. The model is scalable and will find utility in a range of branched biological networks such as angiogenesis, plant root growth and fungal hyphal networks.

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