Math Biology Seminar Abstracts

Wednesday, April 24, 2002 3:05 pm LCB 323

Speaker: Nick Cogan.

Title: `` Maze solving amoeboids: How smart are they?''

Abstract: The {\it{Physarum}} plasmodium is a large single-celled organism which utilizes organized contractions to create channels within the protoplasm. In experiments, the organism is placed on an agar surface which is embedded in a maze pattern. The initially starved organism has a well-distributed network of thin channels. After the introduction of food sources at the entrance and exit of the maze, the organism uses contractions to adjust the channel network to maximize the nutrient transport. The result is a single thick channel that indicates the best solution to the maze. We describe a mathematical model of the solvent/gel mixture of the protoplasm. We demonstrate the channeling behavior as well as the organisms' ability to choose the shortest available path.

For more information contact J. Keener, 1-6089