Transport Models for Collective Dynamics in Biological Systems

Generation, Adaptation, and Optimization of Biological Transport Networks

David Cai

Shanghai Jiao Tong University


Blood vessel systems and leaf venations are typical biological transport networks. The energy consumption for such a system to perform its biological functions is determined by the network structure. We discuss possible mechanisms underlying the generation of transport networks and our simulation results that demonstrate how different structures, such as trees or loops, can emerge, through adaptation, from a continuum medium by controlling fluctuations in the dynamics. We further study optimal structures of transport networks and show how the blood vessel system adapts itself to an optimized structure. Finally, we used our theory to characterize the developmental pruning process in the zebra fish midbrain.