Mechanical self-assembly vs. morphogenesis


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Morphogenesis, as one of the three fundamental aspects of developmental biology, refers to the biological processes of developing certain shapes, which takes place across many length scales, including the morphologies of a cell, a tissue, an organ, and a system. From the intrinsic yet complicated biological and biochemical perspectives, several mechanisms for plant pattern formation have been suggested, such as positional information theory [1] and reaction-diffusion theory [2]. However, the active role of mechanical forces should not be underemphasized. In the past few years, a great interest has been sparked in the development of biophysical and mechanical theories to explain the plant pattern formation [3, 4]. Among them, the connection of the morphogenetic processes of some plants with mechanical buckling theory receives a great attraction owing to some similarities. Patterns and shape formation are treated as the generation of specific undulating physical topography. From biophysical viewpoints, during the growth of plants, the morphology transition can be treated as spontaneously approaching the pattern/mode with minimal energy, which is similar to the mechanical instability/bifurcation approach. Among the several possible buckling/wrinkling modes (i.e., undulating patterns or structures), the system will spontaneously choose the pattern with the minimized energy. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York. All rights are reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMechanical Self-Assembly: Science and Applications
EditorsXi CHEN
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781461445623
ISBN (Print)9781461445616
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Sandwich Panel
  • Compliant Substrate
  • Surface Wrinkle
  • Phyllotactic Pattern
  • Mechanical Buckling


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