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Pattern formation is a key aspect of development. Adult zebrafish exhibit a striking striped pattern generated through the self-organisation of three different chromatophores. Numerous investigations have revealed a multitude of individual cell-cell interactions important for this self-organisation, but it has remained unclear whether these known biological rules were sufficient to explain pattern formation. To test this, we present an individual-based mathematical model incorporating all the important cell-types and known interactions. The model qualitatively and quantitatively reproduces wild type and mutant pigment pattern development. We use it to resolve a number of outstanding biological uncertainties, including the roles of domain growth and the initial iridophore stripe, and to generate hypotheses about the functions of leopard. We conclude that our rule-set is sufficient to recapitulate wild-type and mutant patterns. Our work now leads the way for further in silico exploration of the developmental and evolutionary implications of this pigment patterning system.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52998
Pages (from-to)1-62
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Owen et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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