Cell division is a violent process. The cell’s cytoskeleton must be ripped apart, and all of the pieces tugged around and reorganised into two identical cells. Dramatic events like this are difficult to observe directly in the lab, so biologists must be inventive. Using knowledge about the machinery of cell division in yeast, mathematical modelling allows ‘virtual’ experiments to be done. Here we see one such simulation predicting how the cell’s muscles, the motor proteins (shown in in red), might pull the cytoskeleton filaments (shown in blue and green) into a spiralling vortex, a pattern never observed before in the cell. Such insight is just one example of how powerful mathematical models can be. It is no wonder that mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists are an increasingly frequent sight in the modern biology lab.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.