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Shaping an embryo with mechanical ingredients

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Goal : Our aim is then to understand how biochemical activity leads to the deformations observed in a model case, namely the gastrulation of the fruit fly embryo. In the initially ellipsoïdal embryo, a ventral furrow appears and hollows on the whole length on the embryo. In the longer term, it will be possible to sketch a dictionary of the force configurations necessary to obtain diverse elementary shapes : circular depressions, valleys, bumps, protrusions, folds, flattenings... Using this dictionnary will allow to decipher the origin of more complex shapes, that are met during embryogenesis.

Realization : The beginning of a furrow could be obtained through an elastic surface model, deformed using various mechanical ingredients selected in order to reproduce biological phenomenons that are at stake in this precocious stage of development. Equilibrium shapes are obtained with the logiciel « Surface Evolver ». The aim of this internship is to optimize the furrow’s shape through the exploration of parameters within a range keeping a biological relevance, plus adding the possibility for plastic deformations (i.e. bidimensional flows within the surface). The setup of a devoted code is a possible future development of the work.

Internship location : LIPhy (Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Physics) is located in Grenoble on the campus of Saint-Martin d’Hères, surrounded by mountains.

Traineeship will be co-trained by Catherine Quilliet (Université de Grenoble), Jocelyn Etienne et Philippe Marmottant (CNRS).

Prospects : This traineeship can be followed by a thesis.