Living tissues in multicellular organisms flow like a “fluid” during their development and regeneration. Recent advances in experimental and theoretical techniques enable us to measure the mechanical forces driving the morphogenetic processes. However, there has not been thorough studies on the fluid-mechanical properties of the tissues, and we are still far from quantitatively understanding the processes of tissue deformations under external and internal forces.
We are trying to develop a statistical method to mathematically approximate the hydrodynamics at a tissue-level. Our current strategy is to interpret the tissue as a continuum mechanical system, and use the observed velocity and force fields to compute the maximum likelihood estimate of the parameters governing the hydrodynamics.
Our method will enable us to quantify the fluid-mechanical parameters. In addition, there are numerous ways to couple the hydrodynamics with cellular processes such as growth, polarization, etc. However, there are many statistical criteria to determine the best model, and we are currently seeking the criterion that is physically most appropriate to our situation.
This talk is an oral progress report of the application of our method to the collective migration of MDCK epithelial cells.