Using simple baseline models to interpret developmental processes in C. elegans

Mathematical Biology Seminar
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 11:00am for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Niall M. Mangan – Northwestern University –
Daniel Cruz

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Growth control establishes organism size, requiring mechanisms to sense and adjust growth. Studies of single cells revealed that size homeostasis uses distinct control methods: Size, Timer, and Adder. In multicellular organisms, mechanisms that regulate single cell growth must integrate control across organs and tissues during development to generate adult size and shape. We leveraged the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a scalable and tractable model to collect precise growth measurements of thousands of individuals, measure feeding behavior, and quantify changes in animal size and shape. Using quantitative measurements and mathematical modeling, we propose two models of physical mechanisms by which C. elegans can control growth. First, constraints on cuticle stretch generate mechanical signals through which animals sense body size and initiate larval-stage transitions. Second, mechanical control of food intake drives growth rate within larval stages. These results suggest how physical constraints control developmental timing and growth rate in C. elegans.

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