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  1. Abstract

    Cells, including unicellulars, are highly sensitive to external constraints from their environment. Amoeboid cells change their cell shape during locomotion and in response to external stimuli. Physarum polycephalum is a large multinucleated amoeboid cell that extends and develops pseudopods. In this paper, changes in cell behavior and shape were measured during the exploration of homogenous and non-homogenous environments that presented neutral, and nutritive and/or adverse substances. In the first place, we developed a fully automated image analysis method to measure quantitatively changes in both migration and shape. Then we measured various metrics that describe the area covered, the exploration dynamics, the migration rate and the slime mold shape. Our results show that: (1) Not only the nature, but also the spatial distribution of chemical substances affect the exploration behavior of slime molds; (2) Nutritive and adverse substances both slow down the exploration and prevent the formation of pseudopods; and (3) Slime mold placed in an adverse environment preferentially occupies previously explored areas rather than unexplored areas using mucus secretion as a buffer. Our results also show that slime molds migrate at a rate governed by the substrate up until they get within a critical distance to chemical substances.

  2. Abstract State-of-the-Art models of Root System Architecture (RSA) do not allow simulating root growth around rigid obstacles. Yet, the presence of obstacles can be highly disruptive to the root system. We grew wheat seedlings in sealed petri dishes without obstacle and in custom 3D-printed rhizoboxes containing obstacles. Time-lapse photography was used to reconstruct the wheat root morphology network. We used the reconstructed wheat root network without obstacle to calibrate an RSA model implemented in the R-SWMS software. The root network with obstacles allowed calibrating the parameters of a new function that models the influence of rigid obstacles on wheat root growth. Experimental results show that the presence of a rigid obstacle does not affect the growth rate of the wheat root axes, but that it does influence the root trajectory after the main axis has passed the obstacle. The growth recovery time, i.e. the time for the main root axis to recover its geotropism-driven growth, is proportional to the time during which the main axis grows along the obstacle. Qualitative and quantitative comparisons between experimental and numerical results show that the proposed model successfully simulates wheat RSA growth around obstacles. Our results suggest that wheat roots follow patterns that couldmore »inspire the design of adaptive engineering flow networks.« less