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Science. 1990 Aug 31;249(4972):992-1000.

Principles of design of fluid transport systems in zoology.

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  • 1Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, IL 60637.


Fluid transport systems mediate the transfer of materials both within an organism and between an organism and its environment. The architecture of fluid transport systems is determined by the small distances over which transfer processes are effective and by hydrodynamic and energetic constraints. All fluid transport systems within organisms exhibit one of two geometries, a simple tube interrupted by a planar transfer region or a branched network of vessels linking widely distributed transfer regions; each is determined by different morphogenetic processes. By exploiting the signal inherent in local shear stress on the vessel walls, animals have repeatedly evolved a complex branching hierarchy of vessels approximating a globally optimal system that minimizes the costs of the construction and maintenance of the fluid transport system.

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