Computable early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo with a phase field model

Xiangyu Kuang, Guoye Guan, Ming-Kin Wong, Lu-Yan Chan, Zhongying Zhao, Chao Tang, Lei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Morphogenesis is a precise and robust dynamic process during metazoan embryogenesis, consisting of both cell proliferation and cell migration. Despite the fact that much is known about specific regulations at molecular level, how cell proliferation and migration together drive the morphogenesis at cellular and organismic levels is not well understood. Using Caenorhabditis elegans as the model animal, we present a phase field model to compute early embryonic morphogenesis within a confined eggshell. With physical information about cell division obtained from three-dimensional time-lapse cellular imaging experiments, the model can precisely reproduce the early morphogenesis process as seen in vivo, including time evolution of location and morphology of each cell. Furthermore, the model can be used to reveal key cell-cell attractions critical to the development of C. elegans embryo. Our work demonstrates how genetic programming and physical forces collaborate to drive morphogenesis and provides a predictive model to decipher the underlying mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009755
Number of pages32
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Modelling and Simulation


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