Friday 24 April 2015

BioMaths Colloquia - 24/04/2015

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2014/15

24 April 2015 - 3pm Maths Seminar Room 

(room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Swimming Patterns of Zoospores

Dr. Fordyce Davidson

A key aim of our BioMaths Colloquia is to foster interactions and collaborations among mathematicians and biologists which are of mutual interest to both groups of researchers. This week's seminar speakers, Dr. Fordyce Davidson, Head of the Division of Mathematics at the University of Dundee, is an ideal speaker for this intent, as his research spans both research divisions. Specifically, Fordyce's lab aims to develop and analyse mathematical tools with which to better understand biological processes, and research covers two broad, complementary areas, the quantitative study of biological systems and the analysis of differential equations models arising from biology. Similarly, Fordyce is on the Editorial Board of a journal like 'Fungal Ecology', as well as on the IMA Journal of Applied Mathematics.


Oomycetes are a group of  pathogens that cause many destructive diseases in animals and plants. One species in particular, Phytophthora infestans, is perhaps the most well known and is responsible for the potato late blight disease. It  was the  cause of the infamous Irish potato famine in the 1880s and remains  a  significant global problem with associated costs estimated at $3 billion  annually. Key to the success of this  pathogen  is the dispersal of  free-swimming cells called zoospores. 

A poorly understood aspect of zoospore behaviour is  auto-aggregation -  the spontaneous formation of large-scale patterns in cell density. Current competing hypotheses suggest that these patterns are formed by one of two distinct mechanisms: chemotaxis and bioconvection. In this talk  we present mathematical and experimental results that together  provide strong evidence that auto-aggregation can only result from a combination of these mechanisms, each having a distinct, time-separated  role.

The discussions will continue over biscuits and tea/coffee after the seminar. 
Hope to see many of you!

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