Buckling without bending: A new paradigm in morphogenesis

T. A. Engstrom, Teng Zhang, A. K. Lawton, A. L. Joyner, J. M. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A curious feature of organ and organoid morphogenesis is that in certain cases, spatial oscillations in the thickness of the growing "film" are out-of-phase with the deformation of the slower-growing "substrate," while in other cases, the oscillations are in-phase. The former cannot be explained by elastic bilayer instability, and contradict the notion that there is a universal mechanism by which brains, intestines, teeth, and other organs develop surface wrinkles and folds. Inspired by the microstructure of the embryonic cerebellum, we develop a new model of 2d morphogenesis in which system-spanning elastic fibers endow the organ with a preferred radius, while a separate fifiber network resides in the otherwise fluid-like film at the outer edge of the organ and resists thickness gradients thereof. The tendency of the film to uniformly thicken or thin is described via a "growth potential". Several features of cerebellum, +blebbistatin organoid, and retinal fovea morphogenesis, including out-of-phase behavior and a film thickness amplitude that is comparable to the radius amplitude, are readily explained by our simple analytical model, as may be an observed scale- invariance in the number of folds in the cerebellum. We also study a nonlinear variant of the model, propose further biological and bio-inspired applications, and address how our model is and is not unique to the developing nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jun 18 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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