Credit: CC0 Public Domain In 1952, Alan Turing published a study which described mathematically how systems composed of many living organisms can form rich and diverse arrays of orderly patterns. He proposed that this ‘self-organization’ arises from instabilities in un-patterned systems, which can form as different species jostle for space and resources. So far, however, researchers have struggled to reproduce Turing patterns in laboratory conditions, raising serious doubts about its applicability. In a new study published in EPJ B , researchers led by Malbor Asllani at the University of Limerick, Ireland, have revisited Turing’s theory to prove mathematically how instabilities can occur through simple reactions, and in widely varied environmental conditions.
The team’s results could help biologists to better understand the origins of many ordered structures in nature, from spots and stripes on animal coats, to clusters of vegetation in arid environments. In Turing’s original model, he introduced two diffusing chemical species to different points on a closed ring of cells. As they diffused across adjacent cells, these species ‘competed’ with each other as they interacted; eventually organizing to form patterns. This pattern formation depended on the fact that the symmetry during this process could be broken to different degrees, […]
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