Modelling Hyphal Growth and Fruit Body Formation

Hyphal growth is well suited to mathematical modelling, and the recent neighbour-sensing model brings together the basic essentials of hyphal growth kinetics into a vector-based mathematical model that 'grows' a life-like virtual mycelium (or 'cyberfungus') on the user's computer monitor (Meskauskas et al., 2004a, 2004b; Moore et al., 2006). The program has been used in a series of experiments (Meskauskas et al., 2004a, 2004b) to show that complex fungal fruit body shapes can be simulated by applying the same regulatory functions to all of the growth points active in a structure at any specific time. No global control of fruit body geometry is necessary; rather, the shape of the fruit body emerges as the entire population of hyphal tips respond together, in the same way, to the same signals. These computer simulations thus demonstrate that because of the kinetics of hyphal tip growth, very little regulation of cell-to-cell interaction is required to generate fungal fruit body structures. The program includes parameters that can be used to mimic the effects of cell-to-cell signalling and environmental variables. These give the experimenter the opportunity to study the effects of such variables on fungal growth in silico.

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