Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

At the origin of cell division: The features of living matter emerge from inanimate matter in simulation

Date:
April 16, 2014
Source:
Sissa Medialab
Summary:
Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane: these are the models of a “simplified” cell used by physicists who simulated the spontaneous emergence of cell motility and division - that is, features of living material - in inanimate “objects”.

Image shows active droplets.
Credit: SISSA

Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane: these are the models of a "simplified" cell used by the SISSA physicists Luca Giomi and Antonio DeSimone, who simulated the spontaneous emergence of cell motility and division -- that is, features of living material -- in inanimate "objects." The research is one of the cover stories of the April 10th online issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

Giomi and DeSimone's artificial cells are in fact computer models that mimic some of the physical properties of the materials making up the inner content and outer membrane of cells.

The two researchers varied some of the parameters of the materials, recording what happened: "our 'cells' are a 'bare bones' representation of a biological cell, which normally contains microtubules, elongated proteins enclosed in an essentially lipid cell membrane," explains Giomi, first author of the study. "The filaments contained in the 'cytoplasm' of our cells slide over one another exerting a force that we can control."

The force exerted by the filaments is the variable that competes with another force, the surface tension that keeps the membrane surrounding the droplet from collapsing. The generates a flow in the fluid surrounding the droplet, which in turn is propelled by such self-generated flow. When the flow becomes very strong, the droplet deforms to the point of dividing. "When the force of the flow prevails over the force that keeps the membrane together we have cellular division," explains DeSimone, director of the SISSA mathLab, SISSA's mathematical modelling and scientific computing laboratory.

"We showed that by acting on a single physical parameter in a very simple model we can reproduce similar effects to those obtained with experimental observations," continues DeSimone. Empirical observations on microtubule specimens have shown that these also move outside the cell environment, in a manner proportional to the energy they have (derived from ATP, the cell "fuel"). "Similarly, our droplets, fuelled by their 'inner' energy alone -- without forces acting from the outside -- are able to move and even divide."

"Acquiring motility and the ability to divide is a fundamental step for life and, according to our simulations, the laws governing these phenomena could be very simple. Observations like ours can prepare the way for the creation of functioning artificial cells, and not only," comments Giomi. "Our work is also useful for understanding the transition from non-living to living matter on our planet. The development of the early forms of life, in other words."

Chemists and biologists who study the origin of life don't have access to cells that are sufficiently simple to be observed directly. "Even the simplest organism existing today has undergone billions of years of evolution," explains Giomi, "and will always contain fairly complex structures. Starting from schematic organisms as we do is like turning the clock back to when the first rudimentary living beings made their first appearance. We are currently starting studies to understand how cell metabolism emerged."

VIDEO: Artificial cell simulation (courtesy of Physical Review Letters): http://goo.gl/vLDcbB


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sissa Medialab. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Luca Giomi, Antonio DeSimone. Spontaneous Division and Motility in Active Nematic Droplets. Physical Review Letters, 2014; 112 (14) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.147802

Cite This Page:

Sissa Medialab. "At the origin of cell division: The features of living matter emerge from inanimate matter in simulation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416090439.htm>.
Sissa Medialab. (2014, April 16). At the origin of cell division: The features of living matter emerge from inanimate matter in simulation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416090439.htm
Sissa Medialab. "At the origin of cell division: The features of living matter emerge from inanimate matter in simulation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416090439.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins