Fall 2010 IAB
September 15 to 17

Plenary 5: Dr. Daniel Huang


Turing Pattern Formation and Synthetic Biology

Understanding symmetry breaking is at the heart of developmental biology. Symmetry breaking answers the age-old questions regarding the origins of polarity, cellular differentiation and how the leopard got its spots. The two-component reaction-diffusion system first purposed by Alan Turing gives a simple model on how an initially spatially uniform concentration of two substances, can become spatially non-uniform to form patterns, through local
stochasticity, and chemical reactions. Patterns formed from this mechanism is now known as Turing patterns. This process can be used to help explain the origin of patterns in biological systems, such as leopard spot, zebra stripes and human fingerprint patterns. In this project we seek to create synthetic Turing patterns in E. coli colonies. Theoretical synthetic circuits will be analyzed analytically and through FEM in order to test for the possibility of pattern formations. Circuits will then be constructed experimentally in E. coli to form Turing patterns. Studying synthetic Turing patterns allows for a further understanding of symmetry breaking in nature, as well as explores cellular communication in synthetic multi-cellular systems.