Schedule Sep 24, 2003
Non-Equilibrium Physics Underlying Biological Function: The Case of Bacterial Colony Patterns
Dr. Herbert Levine, UCSD

Several decades of intensive research into spatially-extended non-equilibrium systems in physics and chemistry have led to a good understanding of different pattern-formation schemata. These include diffusion-limited growth, waves in excitable/oscillatory media, localized Turing structures, and various types of spatio-temporal chaos. One major challenge is the application of these concepts to better comprehend biological processes in which the spatial structure has a clear functional purpose. Theoretical physics has a crucial role to play both in sharpening our fundamental concepts and in helping incorporate the numerous regulatory feedbacks, unique to the biological context, into our conceptual framework. This talk will describe the implementation and current status of this research program for the specific case of bacterial colony dynamics, dynamics that lead to patterns as an adaptive response to harsh growth conditions.

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