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Pigment cell movement is not required for generation of Turing patterns in zebrafish skin

Mon, 11 May 2015 19:17:51 GMT


The zebrafish is a model organism for pattern formation in vertebrates. Understanding what drives the formation of its coloured skin motifs could reveal pivotal to comprehend the mechanisms behind morphogenesis. The motifs look and behave like reaction–diffusion Turing patterns, but the nature of the underlying physico-chemical processes is very different, and the origin of the patterns is still unclear. Here we propose a minimal model for such pattern formation based on a regulatory mechanism deduced from experimental observations. This model is able to produce patterns with intrinsic wavelength, closely resembling the experimental ones. We mathematically prove that their origin is a Turing bifurcation occurring despite the absence of cell motion, through an effect that we call differential growth. This mechanism is qualitatively different from the reaction–diffusion originally proposed by Turing, although they both generate the short-range activation and the long-range inhibition required to form Turing patterns.


Pigment cell movement is not required for generation of Turing patterns in zebrafish skin
• D. Bullara & Y. De Decker

Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6971 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms7971

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