Development and Evolution


Evolution is a process that naturally involves the interaction of elements across many temporal and spatial scales. There can frequently be conflicts of interest and feedbacks within and between these scales, leading to a complicated overall picture that is very difficult to understand. Mathematical and computational modelling techniques are thus vital to investigate the outcomes of evolutionary systems because they allow for a rigorous and consistent approach, thereby producing a better understanding of the processes guiding evolution. We largely focus on sexual selection, the process by which genes or phenotypic traits are favoured due to providing increased quantities of offspring through, for example, an increased ability to attract mates, or an increased quantity of offspring from each mating. There is naturally a high complexity to be dealt with when considering this area, and potential conflicts and tradeoffs abound. Some examples are conflict between the interests of males and females, conflict between parents and offspring, trading off the need to attract mates and the need to survive, trading off investment in current and future mating opportunities, and conflict between individuals in the search (or fight) for a mate. Mathematical and computational models allow us to investigate the course of evolution while potentially incorporating all of these factors.


All biological tissues and organs are created when stem cells proliferate and differentiate. These cells interact and form into tissues and organs with specific functions. We require a better understanding of how this process occurs and what happens when it goes wrong. The colorectal crypt is a canonical example for such a study and much work has been undertaken in this area. We are working to extend these computational models to consider the formation of crypts, building on the models and simulations we have used for deformation of fully developed crypts. We are also working on extending a spatial model of germline cell production in C. elegans to include mechanical cell-cell interactions.

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