The Wiener-Lee-Schetzen method for the identification of a nonlinear system through white gaussian noise stimulation was applied to the transient light growth response of the sporangiophore of Phycomyces. In order to cover a moderate dynamic range of light intensity I, the imput variable was defined to be log I. The experiments were performed in the normal range of light intensity, centered about I0 = 10(-6) W/cm2. The kernels of the Wierner functionals were computed up to second order. Within the range of a few decades the system is reasonably linear with log I. The main nonlinear feature of the second-order kernel corresponds to the property of rectification. Power spectral analysis reveals that the slow dynamics of the system are of at least fifth order. The system can be represented approximately by a linear transfer function, including a first-order high-pass (adaptation) filter with a 4 min time constant and an underdamped fourth-order low-pass filter. Accordingly a linear electronic circuit was constructed to simulate the small scale response characteristics. In terms of the adaptation model of Delbrück and Reichardt (1956, in Cellular Mechanisms in Differentiation and Growth, Princeton University Press), kernels were deduced for the dynamic dependence of the growth velocity (output) on the "subjective intensity", a presumed internal variable. Finally the linear electronic simulator above was generalized to accommodate the large scale nonlinearity of the adaptation model and to serve as a tool for deeper test of the model.
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