Browsing by Subject "Complexity"

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  • Vroomans, Renske M. A.; Hogeweg, Paulien; ten Tusscher, Kirsten H. W. J. (2018)
    BackgroundSegmentation, the subdivision of the major body axis into repeated elements, is considered one of the major evolutionary innovations in bilaterian animals. In all three segmented animal clades, the predominant segmentation mechanism is sequential segmentation, where segments are generated one by one in anterior-posterior order from a posterior undifferentiated zone. In vertebrates and arthropods, sequential segmentation is thought to arise from a clock-and-wavefront-type mechanism, where oscillations in the posterior growth zone are transformed into a segmental prepattern in the anterior by a receding wavefront. Previous evo-devo simulation studies have demonstrated that this segmentation type repeatedly arises, supporting the idea of parallel evolutionary origins in these animal clades. Sequential segmentation has been studied most extensively in vertebrates, where travelling waves have been observed that reflect the slowing down of oscillations prior to their cessation and where these oscillations involve a highly complex regulatory network. It is currently unclear under which conditions this oscillator complexity and slowing should be expected to evolve, how they are related and to what extent similar properties should be expected for sequential segmentation in other animal species.ResultsTo investigate these questions, we extend a previously developed computational model for the evolution of segmentation. We vary the slope of the posterior morphogen gradient and the strength of gene expression noise. We find that compared to a shallow gradient, a steep morphogen gradient allows for faster evolution and evolved oscillator networks are simpler. Furthermore, under steep gradients, damped oscillators often evolve, whereas shallow gradients appear to require persistent oscillators which are regularly accompanied by travelling waves, indicative of a frequency gradient. We show that gene expression noise increases the likelihood of evolving persistent oscillators under steep gradients and of evolving frequency gradients under shallow gradients. Surprisingly, we find that the evolutions of oscillator complexity and travelling waves are not correlated, suggesting that these properties may have evolved separately.ConclusionsBased on our findings, we suggest that travelling waves may have evolved in response to shallow morphogen gradients and gene expression noise. These two factors may thus also be responsible for the observed differences between different species within both the arthropod and chordate phyla.
  • Vroomans, Renske M A; Hogeweg, Paulien; ten Tusscher, Kirsten H W J (BioMed Central, 2018)
    Abstract Background Segmentation, the subdivision of the major body axis into repeated elements, is considered one of the major evolutionary innovations in bilaterian animals. In all three segmented animal clades, the predominant segmentation mechanism is sequential segmentation, where segments are generated one by one in anterior–posterior order from a posterior undifferentiated zone. In vertebrates and arthropods, sequential segmentation is thought to arise from a clock-and-wavefront-type mechanism, where oscillations in the posterior growth zone are transformed into a segmental prepattern in the anterior by a receding wavefront. Previous evo-devo simulation studies have demonstrated that this segmentation type repeatedly arises, supporting the idea of parallel evolutionary origins in these animal clades. Sequential segmentation has been studied most extensively in vertebrates, where travelling waves have been observed that reflect the slowing down of oscillations prior to their cessation and where these oscillations involve a highly complex regulatory network. It is currently unclear under which conditions this oscillator complexity and slowing should be expected to evolve, how they are related and to what extent similar properties should be expected for sequential segmentation in other animal species. Results To investigate these questions, we extend a previously developed computational model for the evolution of segmentation. We vary the slope of the posterior morphogen gradient and the strength of gene expression noise. We find that compared to a shallow gradient, a steep morphogen gradient allows for faster evolution and evolved oscillator networks are simpler. Furthermore, under steep gradients, damped oscillators often evolve, whereas shallow gradients appear to require persistent oscillators which are regularly accompanied by travelling waves, indicative of a frequency gradient. We show that gene expression noise increases the likelihood of evolving persistent oscillators under steep gradients and of evolving frequency gradients under shallow gradients. Surprisingly, we find that the evolutions of oscillator complexity and travelling waves are not correlated, suggesting that these properties may have evolved separately. Conclusions Based on our findings, we suggest that travelling waves may have evolved in response to shallow morphogen gradients and gene expression noise. These two factors may thus also be responsible for the observed differences between different species within both the arthropod and chordate phyla.
  • Rutter, Harry; Bes-Rastrollo, Maira; de Henauw, Stefaan; Lahti-Koski, Marjaana; Lehtinen-Jacks, Susanna; Mullerova, Dana; Rasmussen, Finn; Rissanen, Aila; Visscher, Tommy L. S.; Lissner, Lauren (2017)
  • Hagolani, Pascal F.; Zimm, Roland; Marin-Riera, Miquel; Salazar-Ciudad, Isaac (2019)
    Embryonic development involves gene networks, extracellular signaling, cell behaviors (cell division, adhesion, etc.) and mechanical interactions. How should these be coordinated to lead to complex and robust morphologies? To explore this question, we randomly wired genes and cell behaviors into a huge number of networks in EmbryoMaker. EmbryoMaker is a computational model of animal development that simulates how the 3D positions of cells, i.e. morphology, change over time due to such networks. We found that any gene network can lead to complex morphologies if this activates cell behaviors over large regions of the embryo. Importantly, however, for such complex morphologies to be robust to noise, gene networks should include cell signaling that compartmentalizes the embryo into small regions where cell behaviors are regulated differently. If, instead, cell behaviors are equally regulated over large regions, complex but non-robust morphologies arise. We explain how compartmentalization enhances robustness and why it is a general feature of animal development. Our results are consistent with theories proposing that robustness evolved by the co-option of gene networks and extracellular cell signaling in early animal evolution.
  • Willamo, R.; Helenius, L.; Holmström, C.; Haapanen, L.; Sandström, V.; Huotari, E.; Kaarre, K.; Värre, U.; Nuotiomäki, A.; Happonen, J.; Kolehmainen, L. (2018)
    Sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and rapid urbanization are complex and strongly interrelated. In order to successfully deal with these challenges, we need comprehensive approaches that integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines and perspectives and emphasize interconnections. In short, they aid in observing matters in a wider perspective without losing an understanding of the details. In order to teach and learn a comprehensive approach, we need to better understand what comprehensive thinking actually is. In this paper, we present a conceptual framework for a comprehensive approach, termed the GHH framework. The framework comprises three dimensions: generalism, holism, and holarchism. It contributes to the academic community's understanding of comprehensive thinking and it can be used for integrating comprehensive thinking into education. Also, practical examples of the application of the framework in university teaching are presented. We argue that an ideal approach to sustainability challenges and complexity in general is a balanced, dialectical combination of comprehensive and differentiative approaches. The current dominance of specialization, or the differentiative approach, in university education calls for a stronger emphasis on comprehensive thinking skills. Comprehensiveness should not be considered as a flawed approach, but should instead be considered as important an aspect in education as specialized and differentiative skills. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.