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EPJ E - How the fruit fly got its spots

EPJ E - How the fruit fly got its spots

The eye of the Drosophila (fruit fly) is characterized by a neat hexagonal patterns, a fascinating system to study pattern formation in biology. A recent paper published in EPJ E proposes a new mechanism to explain the emergence of this pattern.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor examined a spatially discrete, three variable reaction-diffusion model inspired by the interactions that create a periodic pattern of gene expression in the Drosophila eye. This model creates a regular pattern behind a moving front, as observed in eye discs, through a novel “switch and template” mechanism. In order to better understand this mechanism, the authors performed a detailed study of the model’s behaviour in one dimension, using a combination of analytic methods and numerical searches of parameter space. They find that patterns are created robustly, provided that there is an appropriate separation of time scales and that self-activation is sufficiently strong. The model operates in a strongly nonlinear regime where the final pattern depends on the initial conditions as well as on parameter values. This study highlights the important role that cellularisation and cell-autonomous feedback can play in biological pattern formation.

To read the full paper "Switch and template pattern formation in a discrete reaction-diffusion system inspired by the Drosophila eye" by M.W. Pennington and D.K. Lubensky, Eur. Phys. J. E 33 (2010) click here.

Editor-in-Chief
Paolo Biscari
I wish to congratulate the production staff for the precision in reproducing the text and the equations and formulas. It is not so frequent, nowadays.

Loris Ferrari, Università di Bologna, Italy

ISSN: 2190-5444 (Electronic Edition)

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