Computer model of limb mechanics
We are exploring the ways in which cell behaviours combine with various physical models of tissue to generate the observed shape changes. In particular, it has become clear from early modelling results that explaining phenomena as apparently simple as how the limb bud becomes progressively dorso-ventrally flattened, may be more complicated than expected. The underlying finite-element model has been created by engineers, while emprical data on proliferation rates and shape changes is gathered by wet-lab biologists. An essential aspect of this project is that empirically measured biological data is combined within the simulation – it therefore serves as a framework for combining different types of information. While biological material has previously been successfully modelled over a period of seconds or minutes, a mathematical/physical description of 3D embryonic tissue displaying volumetric growth over a period of hours or days has not previously been achieved, and this is therefore one of the general goals of this project.