Morphogenesis at criticality

Dmitry Krotov, Julien O. Dubuis, Thomas Gregora, William Bialek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Spatial patterns in the early fruit fly embryo emerge from a network of interactions among transcription factors, the gap genes, driven by maternal inputs. Such networks can exhibit many qualitatively different behaviors, separated by critical surfaces. At criticality, we should observe strong correlations in the fluctuations of different genes around their mean expression levels, a slowing of the dynamics along some but not all directions in the space of possible expression levels, correlations of expression fluctuations over long distances in the embryo, and departures from a Gaussian distribution of these fluctuations. Analysis of recent experiments on the gap gene network shows that all these signatures are observed, and that the different signatures are related in ways predicted by theory. Although there might be other explanations for these individual phenomena, the confluence of evidence suggests that this genetic network is tuned to criticality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3683-3688
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 11 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Drosophila embryo
  • Genetic networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Morphogenesis at criticality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this