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Generating order from chaos: harnessing noise and heterogeneity in the evolution of robust developmental patterning

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Embryonic development is a remarkable feat of biological reproducibility. This is despite the fact that the molecular processes that underlie developmental mechanisms are actually rather noisy, variable, or even stochastic. For many years, the prevailing idea has thus been that noise must be dampened. However, recent observations of simple microbial systems challenge this idea, and even suggest stochastic heterogeneity or noise in cell signalling and responses can be evolutionarily advantageous. Together, these findings have huge implications, because they raise the question of whether heterogeneity plays a role in cell fate choice and developmental patterning in higher organisms. In this talk I will describe our progress in understanding this question through the identification of ‘lineage priming’ genes and will discuss its implications for regenerative medicine. http://elife.elifesciences.org/content/2/e01760

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society (TCSS) series.

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