Modeling Colony Pattern Formation under Differential Adhesion and Cell Proliferation

Jia Jia Dong, Bucknell University. Part of the applied nonlinear dynamics seminar series.

Abstract: Proliferation of individual cells is one of the hallmarks of living systems, and collectively the cells within a colony or tissue form highly structured patterns, influencing the properties at the population level. We develop a cellular automaton model that characterizes bacterial colony patterns emerging from the joint effect of cell proliferation and cell-cell differential adhesion. Through simulations and theoretical analysis akin to interface growth, we show that this model gives rise to novel properties consistent with recent experimental findings. We observe slower than exponential growth in the case of a single cell type as well as new colony patterns in the case of two cell types. In particular, engulfment of one cell type by the other is strongly enhanced compared to the prediction from the equilibrium differential adhesion hypothesis in the absence of proliferation. These observations provide new insights in predicting and characterizing colony morphology using experimentally accessible information such as single cell growth rate and cell adhesion strength.