Signal Transduction and Communication Through Model Membranes in Networks of Coupled Chemical Oscillators

  • Federico RossiEmail author
  • Kristian Torbensen
  • Sandra Ristori
  • Ali Abou-Hassan
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 830)


In nature, an important example of chemical communication and synchronicity can be found in cell populations where long-range chemical communication takes place over micrometer distance. In vitro laboratory systems can be useful to understand and control such complex biological mechanisms and, in a biomimetic approach, we present in this paper a model based on three basic features, namely (i) the compartmentalization of chemical information (using microfluidics), (ii) a stable emitter of periodic chemical signals inside compartments (Belousov-Zhabotinsky oscillating reaction) and (iii) a suitable spatio-temporal monitoring of the emitted chemical signal. In particular, starting from our recent work on the communication among oscillators via chemical intermediates in networks of lipid-stabilised droplets, we discuss here the role of compartments and of the geometry of the system. We present 3 different experimental configurations, namely liposomes (water-in-water dispersions), double emulsions (water-in-oil-in-water dispersions) and simple emulsions (water-in-oil dispersions) and we show that the global behaviour of networks can be influenced and controlled by several experimental parameters, like the nature of the collecting solvent, the presence of dopants and the network geometry. Numerical models supporting and explaining the experimental findings are also discussed.


Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction Microfluidics Lipid droplets Chemical oscillators network Chemical coupling 



F.R. gratefully acknowledge the University of Salerno for the grants ORSA158121 and ORSA167988. F.R. and A.A-H. acknowledge the support through the COST Action CM1304 (Emergence and Evolution of Complex Chemical Systems).


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Biology “A. Zambelli”University of SalernoFiscianoItaly
  2. 2.Sorbonne Université, CNRS, PHysico-chimie des Electrolytes et Nanosystèmes InterfaciauX, PHENIXParisFrance
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and CSGIUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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