Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cell density based effects

In videos such as the one below, the cells in the middle have smaller size and therefore, there are more cells per unit area. This means that the concentration of molecules inside those cells might be different from the concentration of molecules in the cells at the outer boundaries. Suppose the cells have multiple stable states; in such cases, concentration differences can trigger state changes, causing different behavior of the cells based on their location in the colony.

Colonies where density is not equally distributed might use this fact (density dependent state change) to create different roles within the colony. Maybe the state of the cells at the center governs certain aspects of the colony and the state of the cells at the edges governs some other aspect of the colony. Even if evolution has not used this observation as a design strategy, it does not limit us from using the density difference as a design strategy for creating diversity within a population.

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