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Title: Mathematical models of cranial neural crest cell migration
Author: Dyson, Louise
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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From the developing embryo to the evacuation of football stadiums, the migration and movement of populations of individuals is a vital part of human life. Such movement often occurs in crowded conditions, where the space occupied by each individual impacts on the freedom of others. This thesis aims to analyse and understand the effects of occupied volume (volume exclusion) on the movement of the individual and the population. We consider, as a motivating system, the rearrangement of individuals required to turn a clump of cells into a functioning embryo. Specifically, we consider the migration of cranial neural crest cells in the developing chick embryo. Working closely with experimental collaborators we construct a hybrid model of the system, consisting of a continuum chemoattractant and individual-based cell description and find that multiple cell phenotypes are required for successful migration. In the crowded environment of the migratory system, volume exclusion is highly important and significantly enhances the speed of cell migration in our model, whilst reducing the numbers of individuals that can enter the domain. The developed model is used to make experimental predictions, that are tested in vivo, using cycles of modelling and experimental work to give greater insight into the biological system. Our formulated model is computational, and is thus difficult to analyse whilst considering different parameter regimes. The second part of the thesis is driven by the wish to systematically analyse our model. As such, it concentrates on developing new techniques to derive continuum equations from diffusive and chemotactic individual-based and hybrid models in one and two spatial dimensions with the incorporation of volume exclusion. We demonstrate the accuracy of our techniques under different parameter regimes and using different mechanisms of movement. In particular, we show that our derived continuum equations almost always compare better to data averaged over multiple simulations than the equivalent equations without volume exclusion. Thus we establish that volume exclusion has a substantial effect on the evolution of a migrating population.
Supervisor: Maini, Philip K. ; Baker, Ruth E. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biology ; Mathematical biology ; Probability theory and stochastic processes ; Biology and other natural sciences (mathematics) ; modelling and simulation of cellular migration ; chemotaxis ; developmental biology ; volume exclusion