Emergence of morphological order in the network formation of Physarum polycephalum

T. Shirakawa*, Y. P. Gunji

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Emergence in a system appears through the interaction of its components, giving rise to higher order or complexity in the system. We tested for the presence of emergent properties in a biological system using the simplest biological entity of a unicellular organism; the plasmodium of Physarum polycephalum, a giant unicellular amoeboid organism that forms a network-like tubular structure connecting its food sources. We let two plasmodium networks within a single cell interact with each other, and observed how the intracellular interaction affected the morphologenesis of the plasmodium networks. We found that the two networks developed homologous morphology. We further discuss the presence of autonomous and emergent properties in homologous network formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-260
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical Chemistry
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytoplasmic streaming
  • Emergence
  • Network morphology
  • Pattern formation
  • Physarum polycephalum
  • Rhythmic contraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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