Self-Organization of Multicellular Systems

Self-Organization of Multicellular Systems

Welcome to our group webpage! We are a joint research group between the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS) and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), based at the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD), established in 2021.

We are theorists, but we closely collaborate with experimentalists, at MPI-CBG and beyond, on problems in theoretical biophysics, applied mathematics, and soft matter physics. Read more about our research.

Looking for a PhD or postdoc position? Read more about how to join us.


Latest research

Stabilisation of Microbial Communities by Responsive Phenotypic Switching

Haas et al., Phys. Rev. Res. 4, 033224 (2022)

Clonal microbes can switch between different phenotypes and recent theoretical work has shown that stochastic switching between these subpopulations can stabilise microbial communities. This phenotypic switching need not be stochastic, however, but can also be in response to environmental factors, both biotic and abiotic. Here, motivated by the bacterial persistence phenotype, we explore the ecological effects of such responsive switching by analyzing phenotypic switching in response to competing species. We show how the stability of microbial communities with responsive switching differs generically from that of communities with stochastic switching only. To understand this effect, we go on to analyse simple two-species models. Combining exact results and numerical simulations, we extend the classical stability results for models of two competing species without phenotypic variation to the case where one of the two species switches, stochastically and responsively, between two phenotypes. In particular, we show that responsive switching can stabilise coexistence even when stochastic switching on its own does not affect the stability of the community.

Join us!

We have postdoctoral positions and fully funded PhD student positions available!


Our research

Read more about our research interests in theoretical biophysics, mathematical biology, and beyond!