The Emergence of Complexity from a Simple Model for Tissue Growth

John W. C. Dunlop, Gerald Zickler, Richard Weinkamer, Franz-Dieter Fischer, Peter Fratzl

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The growth of living tissue is known to be modulated by mechanical as well as biochemical signals. We study a simple numerical model where the tissue growth rate depends on a chemical potential describing biochemical and mechanical driving forces in the material. In addition, the growing tissue is able to adhere to a three-dimensional surface and is subjected to surface tension where not adhering. We first show that this model belongs to a wider class of models describing particle growth during phase separation. We then analyse the predicted tissue shapes growing on a solid support corresponding to a cut hollow cylinder, which could be imagined as an idealized description of a broken long bone. We demonstrate the appearance of complex shapes described by Delauney surfaces and reminiscent of the shapes of callus appearing during bone healing. This complexity of shapes arises despite the extreme simplicity of the growth model, as a consequence of the three-dimensional boundary conditions imposed by the solid support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of statistical physics
Issue numberDecember
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Dec 2019

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