Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Slime Mould Physarum polycephalum, Fluid Flow Across an Individual Organised by Random Network Peristalsis

For individuals to function as an integrated network it is necessary for them to share information and resources across a body. Fluids are commonly used to move signals and substrates, often being channelled through a network of tubes. One mechanism for the transport of fluid is peristalsis, which is caused by a wave of cross-sectional contractions along a tube. In this study Alim et al.1 extended the concept of peristalsis from the canonical case of a single tube to a random network of tubes. The slime mould Physarum polycephalum is known to grow as a random network of tubes, and peristalsis has been confirmed by this study to be used by the slime mould to drive internal flows of cytoplasm. Contraction patterns that were generated theoretically were compared with patterns exhibited by individuals of P. polycephalum and the results demonstrated that internal flows are maximised by individuals by adapting patterns of contraction to size, which therefore optimises transport throughout an organism. The key to organising growth and behaviour may be this control of fluid flow, which includes changes in the architecture of the network that are observed over time in an individual.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Alim, K., G. Amselem, F. Peaudecerf, M. P. Brenner and A. Pringle (2013). "Random network peristalsis in Physarum polycephalum organizes fluid flows across an individual." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 19/04/2015
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