The First International Workshop on Physarum Transport Networks
Until the 80s, the plasmodial slime mold Physarum polycephalum has been the working horse of research on cell motility. With the advent of genetic techniques, attention shifted to mouse models and the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum among other cell types. Work on Physarum ceased temporarily, interrupted by regular activity, until about 15 years ago the exciting ability of Physarum to form adaptive networks in order to forage came into focus. Since then, there has been a steady increase in the number of papers on Physarum per year. Amazingly, Physarum polycephalum can find the shortest path in labyrinths or grow an effective and robust network between multiple food sources. In fact, the latter process can mimick real traffic networks, like railway systems or street maps. Indeed, one may use Physarum to compute optimal solutions to general networks with given boundary conditions. Besides seeking an understanding of general network optimization properties, the community also looked at smaller entities trying to understand the dynamics of microplasmodia and aggregates thereof.
This workshop shall unite the growing family of researchers working on Physarum topics or other slime molds encompassing a wide range of disciplines including but not limited to
- Physarum genetics
- basic cell biology and biochemistry of the plasmodium life cycle and its motility
- physics of active plasmodium gels
- network structure and dynamics
- network morphology in various environments
- foraging decisions
- ecological food webs
- memristive networks and memory
It is a challenge to link the local oscillatory and topological dynamics of the vein network and its control by chemotactic signals via global network dynamics to foraging decisions and motility of the mold as a whole. How do molecular biology and the biological physics of living matter orchestrate the emergent behavior of Physarum transport networks?
We encourage you to take part in this upcoming exciting meeting. I welcome you to join an assessment of the past, presentations of current research, and a discussion of interesting routes ahead. Given sufficient interest, we will organize a public panel discussion to identify important key research issues. See you this December in New York City!