Seminar: Skin patterns in zebrafish: agent-based modeling and public-science projects
Abstract: Wild-type zebrafish (Danio rerio) are characterized by black and yellow stripes, which form on their body and fins due to the self-organization of thousands of pigment cells. Mutant zebrafish and sibling species in the Danio genus, on the other hand, feature altered, variable patterns, including spots and labyrinth curves. The longterm goal of my work is to better link genotype, cell behavior, and phenotype by helping to identify the specific alterations to cell interactions that lead to these different fish patterns. Using an agent-based approach, we describe the behavior of individual cells and simulate pattern formation on zebrafish and its evolutionary relatives. In the first part of my talk, I will overview our models and highlight how topological techniques can be used to quantitatively describe patterns. As the second part of my talk, because fish patterns are also well-suited for public-science communication, I will discuss some methods for introducing children to math in biology through zebrafish as outreach activities.