Statistical and Biological Physics

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Life relies on the emergence of order. Understanding this unique ability of living organisms to self-organize their constituents into functional ensembles is the declared central objective of active-matter physics. Recently, several breakthroughs have demonstrated that principles of active matter are indeed capable of describing the emergence of robust types of macroscopic order, such as topological or defect-dominated states in cells or tissues. Living active systems are not only robust, they also display a degree of malleability. more

Many fundamental cellular processes are spatially regulated by self-organized protein patterns, which are often based on nucleotide-binding proteins that switch their nucleotide state upon interaction with a second, activating protein. For reliable function, these protein patterns must be robust against parameter changes, although the basis for such robustness is generally elusive. Here, we take a combined theoretical and experimental approach to the E. coli Min system, a paradigmatic system for protein self-organization. more