Minimal model of a cell connecting amoebic motion and adaptive transport networks

Yukio Pegio Gunji*, Tomohiro Shirakawa, Takayuki Niizato, Taichi Haruna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


A cell is a minimal self-sustaining system that can move and compute. Previous work has shown that a unicellular slime mold, Physarum, can be utilized as a biological computer based on cytoplasmic flow encapsulated by a membrane. Although the interplay between the modification of the boundary of a cell and the cytoplasmic flow surrounded by the boundary plays a key role in Physarum computing, no model of a cell has been developed to describe this interplay. Here we propose a toy model of a cell that shows amoebic motion and can solve a maze, Steiner minimum tree problem and a spanning tree problem. Only by assuming that cytoplasm is hardened after passing external matter (or softened part) through a cell, the shape of the cell and the cytoplasmic flow can be changed. Without cytoplasm hardening, a cell is easily destroyed. This suggests that cytoplasmic hardening and/or sol-gel transformation caused by external perturbation can keep a cell in a critical state leading to a wide variety of shapes and motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-667
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug 21
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive network
  • Amoebic motion
  • Cell model
  • Natural computing
  • Physarum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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