Stefan successfully defended his thesis work
On July 8, Stefan defended his thesis entitled “Dynamical analysis of nutrient-explicit models for small microbial communities”, a collaboration with Prof. Didier Gonze at the Unit of Theoretical Chronobiology (ULB), and Prof. Jan Danckaert at the Applied Physics research group (APHY, VUB). Stefan did a great job at clearly explaining his research. We wish him all the best in his further career and he will be missed in the group!
How do oscillatory systems with multiple pacemakers synchronize their dynamics?
Felix and Jan have studied what happens when multiple pacemakers compete with each other. Using numerical simulations in a generic reaction-diffusion system, they determined when and how pacemakers synchronize depending on their size, oscillation frequency, and type of coupling. Their work has been published in Chaos. Well done Felix and Jan!
Nuclei determine the spatial origin of mitotic waves
We show how mitotic waves initiate at pacemakers, regions which oscillate faster than their surroundings. In cell-free extracts of Xenopus laevis eggs, we find that nuclei define such pacemakers by concentrating cell cycle regulators. While Felix developed computational models to illustrate how multiple nuclei can collectively determine the pacemaker location, the experiments were carried out by Alexandra, Arno and Liliana. Our work provides insight into how nuclei and spatial system dimensions can control local concentrations of regulators, influencing the emergent behavior of mitotic waves. For more information, see the publication in eLife. Congratulations to everyone for this great team effort!
Mutualistic cross-feeding in microbial systems generates bistability via an Allee effect
Congratulations to Stefan for publishing his latest work in Scientific Reports! In microbial ecosystems, species can interact in a mutualistic way as a result of metabolic cross-feeding. Here, we reduce a theoretical nutrient-explicit model of two mutualistic cross-feeders in a chemostat, uncovering an explicit relation to a growth model with an Allee effect.
The antagonistic RepoMan:Aurora-B pair is co-regulated in proliferating cells
In collaboration with the Bollen lab in our department, we have shown that the abundance of RepoMan, an important phosphatase scaffold, is regulated by the same mechanisms that control the kinase Aurora B. Using experimental and numerical work, we demonstrate that the co–up-regulation of RepoMan and Aurora B is associated with tumor aggressiveness, but it also exposes a vulnerable target for therapeutic intervention. Congratulations to Maria Giulia of the Bollen lab who did all the experimental work and Jan for his numerical contributions! For more information, see our article in MBoC.
We’re excited to have Liliana as a new member of the lab! Liliana will be doing experimental work to figure out how self-organization processes can play an important role in ensuring proper cell cycle progression.
Jan publishes review on traveling fronts in systems with a time delay
In a collaboration with Thomas Erneux (ULB), Jan has published a paper in which we review a series of key traveling front problems in reaction–diffusion systems with time-delayed feedback, appearing in ecology, nonlinear optics and neurobiology. This work is part of the theme issue ‘Nonlinear dynamics of delay systems’ in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.
Jan explains his research in a video
The project "Wetenschap Uitgedokterd" aims to get young scientists to leave their comfort zone in the lab and puts them in front of a camera to clearly explain their research to the general public in 3 minutes. Watch Jan's video here (only in Dutch). Well done Jan, crystal clear!
Alexandra starts a new challenge at the FWO
After almost 3 years together, Alexandra is leaving the lab to reinforce the Research Foundation - Flanders focussing on research policies and strategies concerning fundamental research. As the first member of the group, Alexandra played a crucial role in setting up the lab from the very beginning and was a wonderful person to have around. We wish her all the best and she will be greatly missed in the lab!
Eternal sunshine of the spotless cycle?
In a recent study, Purvis and colleagues (Chao et al, 2019) quantify cell cycle phase durations in human cells and propose a model whereby cell cycle progression in single cells is a succession of uncoupled, memoryless phases, each composed of a characteristic rate and number of steps. They also suggest that having such memoryless phases is a feature of healthy cells, while cancer cells have correlated phases. Silvia Santos (Crick, London) and Lendert have written a News&Views piece about this article.