Fungi develop structures that interact with their surroundings and evolve adaptively in the presence of geometrical constraints, finding optimal solutions for complex combinatorial problems. The pathogenic fungus Ophiocordyceps constitutes a perfect model for the study of constrained interactive networks. Modeling these networks is challenging due to the highly coupled physics involved and their interaction with moving boundaries. In this work, we develop a computational phase-field model to elucidate the mechanics of the emerging properties observed in fungal networks. We use a variational approach to derive the equations governing the evolution in time of the mycelium biomass and the nutrients in the medium. We present an extensive testing of our model, reproduce growing and decaying phenomena, and capture spatial and temporal scales. We explore the variables interplay mechanism that leads to different colony morphologies, and explain abrupt changes of patterns observed in the laboratory. We apply our model to simulate analogous processes to the evolution of Ophiocordyceps as it grows through confined geometry and depletes available resources, demonstrating the suitability of the formulation to study this class of biological networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104160
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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