Cellular organization in lab-evolved and extant multicellular species obeys a maximum entropy law
The prevalence of multicellular organisms is due in part to their ability to form complex structures. How cells pack in these structures is a fundamental biophysical issue, underlying their functional properties. However, much remains unknown about how cell packing geometries arise, and how they are affected by random noise during growth - especially absent developmental programs. Here, we quantify the statistics of cellular neighborhoods of two different multicellular eukaryotes: lab-evolved "snowflake" yeast and the green alga $Volvox~carteri$. We find that despite large differences in cellular organization, the free space associated with individual cells in both organisms closely fits a modified gamma distribution, consistent with maximum entropy predictions originally developed for granular materials. This 'entropic' cellular packing ensures a degree of predictability despite noise, facilitating parent-offspring fidelity even in the absence of developmental regulation. Together with simulations of diverse growth morphologies, these results suggest that gamma-distributed cell neighborhood sizes are a general feature of multicellularity, arising from conserved statistics of cellular packing.
- Pub Date:
- August 2021
- Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter;
- Physics - Biological Physics;
- Quantitative Biology - Populations and Evolution
- 28 pages, 7 figures