Universal calcium fluctuations inHydramorphogenesis

Oded Agam, Erez Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the collective physical processes that drive robust morphological transitions in animal development necessitates the characterization of the relevant fields involved in morphogenesis. Calcium (Ca2+) is recognized as one such field. In this study, we demonstrate that the spatial fluctuations of Ca2+duringHydraregeneration exhibit universal characteristics. To investigate this phenomenon, we employ two distinct controls, an external electric field andheptanol, a gap junction-blocking drug. Both lead to the modulation of the Ca2+activity and a reversible halting of the regeneration process. The application of an electric field enhances Ca2+activity in theHydra's tissue and increases its spatial correlations, while the administration ofheptanolinhibits its activity and diminishes the spatial correlations. Remarkably, the statistical characteristics of Ca2+spatial fluctuations, including the coefficient of variation and skewness, manifest universal shape distributions across tissue samples and conditions. We introduce a field-theoretic model, describing fluctuations in a tilted double-well potential, which successfully captures these universal properties. Moreover, our analysis reveals that the Ca2+activity is spatially localized, and theHydra's tissue operates near the onset of bistability, where the local Ca2+activity fluctuates between low and high excited states in distinct regions. These findings highlight the prominent role of the Ca2+field inHydramorphogenesis and provide insights into the underlying mechanisms governing robust morphological transitions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 22 Sep 2023


  • bistability
  • Hydra regeneration
  • morphogenesis
  • universal calcium fluctuations

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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