A universal route to pattern formation in multicellular systems

Malbor ASLLANI, Timoteo Carletti, Duccio Fanelli, Philip K. Maini

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A general framework for the generation of long wavelength patterns in multi-cellular (discrete) systems is proposed, which extends beyond conventional reaction-diffusion (continuum) paradigms. The standard partial differential equations of reaction-diffusion framework can be considered as a mean-field like ansatz which corresponds, in the biological setting, to sending to zero the size (or volume) of each individual cell. By relaxing this approximation and, provided a directionality in the flux is allowed for, we demonstrate here that instability leading to spatial pattern formation can always develop if the (discrete) system is large enough, namely, composed of sufficiently many cells, the units of spatial patchiness. The macroscopic patterns that follow the onset of the instability are robust and show oscillatory or steady state behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Article number135
JournalEuropean Physical Journal B
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Turing patterns
  • Reaction diffusion systems
  • asymmetric diffusion
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics


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