"From Molecules to Fruiting Bodies: Bridging Scales in Biological Collective Behavior"
This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series.
Coordinated collective behavior is a common feature of a diverse range of biological systems, including multicellular systems such as bacterial biofilms, cancer tumors, and healing wounds. These population-wide behaviors are controlled by cell-to-cell communication, which is coordinated by complex molecular networks residing within individual cells. One of the most striking examples of these behaviors is the transition from an independent, single-celled state to a multicellular aggregate fruiting body in the eukaryotic social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. This talk will focus on new experimental approaches for directly observing and using light to spatially control the production of the key signaling molecule used for cell-to-cell communication that mediates this transition. Combining these experimental approaches with mathematical models permits us to connect the dynamics of signaling molecules inside single cells to the population-wide phenomena they control, laying the groundwork for identifying common principles of how collective cellular behavior arises in nature.