Students from the first year Bsc. Nanobiology have made this final exercise for the course Biomolecular Programming. They have designed a program in the programming language Java that simulates differentiation of tissues during development.
During development of tissues cells differentiate into specific celltypes. One of the ways cells can differentiate according to their position is by so called morphogens. Morphogen is a broad group of molecules defined as a signaling molecule that acts directly on cells and result in cellular processes according to their local concentration.
In tissues specialized cells produce morphogen this sets up a gradient. The pluripotent stem cells present in in this gradient can then differentiate into specialized cells based on their location in this gradient. The location of the morphogen producing cells as well as the concentration, diffusion speed, and lifetime of the morphogen are crucial to the outcome of development.
One of the earlier models that was developed is the so called French Flag model where cells produce morphogen and responding cells differentiate according to the set up gradient. As example we make use of an imaginary wing disc of a Drosophila embryo, with different stainings for different cells that will eventually form the wing of the fly. Many morphogens are involved in at this early stage already determining the anterior, posterior, dorsal and ventral side of the wing, and laying the basis for the form on the wing.
Students that took the effort to add biological relevant creative or extra elements to the final assignment or with outstanding code are listed below showing their simulations.
Hereby we present the best programs of the year 2020 in random order: