Chemical morphogenesis: Turing patterns in an experimental chemical system

Acta Biotheoretica 44 (3-4) (1996)
Abstract
Patterns resulting from the sole interplay between reaction and diffusion are probably involved in certain stages of morphogenesis in biological systems, as initially proposed by Alan Turing. Self-organization phenomena of this type can only develop in nonlinear systems (i.e. involving positive and negative feedback loops) maintained far from equilibrium. We present Turing patterns experimentally observed in a chemical system. An oscillating chemical reaction, the CIMA reaction, is operated in an open spatial reactor designed in order to obtain a pure reaction-diffusion system. The two types of Turing patterns observed, hexagonal arrays of spots and parallel stripes, are characterized by an intrinsic wavelength. We identify the origin of the necessary difference of diffusivity between activator and inhibitor. We also describe a pattern growth mechanism by spot splitting that recalls cell division.
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