Project Details


In the process of their growth, tissues in plants and animals develop into distinctly recognizable shapes: leaves, flowers, bones, etc.; almost universally, the tissue growth appears to be controlled with remarkable accuracy. The principal aim of this research is developing new mathematical tools to understand this control mechanism. From this theoretical perspective, some key questions will be addressed: What physical parameters produce the different behavior of a climbing vine, compared with a tree stem? How does nature control the shape and size of leaves, or flowers, in plants of different species? The project will study various partial differential equations (PDE) modeling the growth of a biological tissue. These equations describe the balance between diffusion and adsorption of growth-inducing chemicals, volume expansion, and elastic deformation of the tissue. The focus will be on the emergence of distinctive shapes, and on how these shapes can be modified by varying the growth-affecting physical parameters.

The project will focus on various models of tissue growth, described by systems of partial differential equations. These represent diffusion and absorption for morphogens within the tissue, bulk growth, and elastic deformation. Existence, uniqueness, and qualitative properties of solutions will be studied, also in an anisotropic setting and for stratified domains. The results to be obtained will expand the current theory of evolution problems on domains with moving boundaries. The research will also address new types of stationary problems, somewhat like eigenvalue problems but in a set-valued framework. For various classes of stratified domains, the Principal Investigator expects to discover families of locally invariant 'morpho-stationary' configurations, depending on finitely many parameters. These will generate a rich variety of new geometric shapes, that will be studied both analytically and numerically.

Effective start/end date7/1/176/30/21


  • National Science Foundation: $345,000.00


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