Image-based modelling of organogenesis

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One of the major challenges in biology concerns the integration of data across length and time scales into a consistent framework: how do macroscopic properties and functionalities arise from the molecular regulatory networks—and how can they change as a result of mutations? Morphogenesis provides an excellent model system to study how simple molecular networks robustly control complex processes on the macroscopic scale despite molecular noise, and how important functional variants can emerge from small genetic changes. Recent advancements in three-dimensional imaging technologies, computer algorithms and computer power now allow us to develop and analyse increasingly realistic models of biological control. Here, we present our pipeline for image-based modelling that includes the segmentation of images, the determination of displacement fields and the solution of systems of partial differential equations on the growing, embryonic domains. The development of suitable mathematical models, the data-based inference of parameter sets and the evaluation of competing models are still challenging, and current approaches are discussed.

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