Cell and Developmental biology


Biomechanics of Morphogenesis

Jérôme Solon
Natalia Czerniak, David Peran Hayes, Anghugali Sumi
Petra Stockinger (dual affiliation with the group of Manuel Mendoza), Juan Jose Fraire Zamora (dual affiliation with the group of Johannes Jaeger), Kai Dierkes, Thomas Pujol
Arturo D’Angelo


Figure . (A) Schematic explaining the principle of turnover at the apical cortex of an epithelial cell.

Our group is interested in describing the mechanisms at the origin of force generation, coordination and regulation in biological tissues. During Drosophila embryogenesis, dramatic tissue rearrangements occur to shape the organism and form its organs. The embryo undergoes a sequence of morphogenetic movements precisely controlled by complex signalling networks. The origin of the forces driving these morphogenetic movements and how signalling networks coordinates them remains unclear.

We are developing methods to apply controlled forces and measure cellular forces in a developing living organism. We combine these methods with state-of-the-art 3D high-resolution live imaging, Drosophila genetic and quantitative modelling to understand the mechanisms regulating the contraction, the spreading and fusion of biological tissues.

Research Projects

  • We are developing new methodologies to induce and measure cellular forces in vivo.
  • Combining high-resolution imaging with physical modelling, we are aiming to understand the mechanisms driving contraction of tissues during Drosophila dorsal closure.
  • We are developing new quantitative models to describe acto-myosin cytoskeleton activity driving tissue remodelling. We found that the fundamental property of acto-myosin turnover can underlie the generation of apical cell surface oscillations as observed in vivo (see figure 1 and Dierkes et al., 2014).
  • We are describing new mechanisms regulating the coordinated spreading of biological tissues during development.

Selected Publications

Dierkes K, Sumi A, Solon J, Salbreux G.
“Spontaneous Oscillations of Contractile Materials with Turnover.”
Phys Rev Lett, 113:148102 (2014).