Proceedings

EPJ E Highlight - Collagen fibres grow like a sunflower

Phyllotactic pattern with concentric circles.

A new study suggests the pattern of fibres in tissues is similar to the petals of a flower

Collagen fibrils are a major component of the connective tissues found throughout the animal kingdom. The cable-like assemblies of long biological molecules combine to form tissues as varied as skin, corneas, tendons or bones. The development of these complex tissues is the subject of a variety of research efforts, focusing on the steps involved and the respective contributions of genetics and physical chemistry to their development. Now, two researchers at the Universite Paris-sud in Orsay, France, have shed new light on how complex collagen fibrils form. In a new study published in EPJ E, the authors focus on one of the hierarchical steps, in which molecules spontaneously associate in long and dense axisymmetric fibres, known as type I collagen fibrils.

The connective tissues are hierarchical structures which undergo several phases of association, producing fibril organisations adapted to various functions within living organisms. In this study, the spontaneous association step under scrutiny is unique because the diameter of the fibre remains constant throughout its growth, while the end of growth manifests a characteristic parabolic profile. After studying several possible models, the researchers concluded the most likely explanation is that the fibres spread out from the fibre axis, along a stem, similar to how a sunflower’s florets grow.

The authors note that phyllotaxis, or the growth of leaves, ensures the best packing possible in contexts of circular symmetry, as is the case with dense collagen fibres. “However, owing to the complexity of the material, appropriate experimental studies, along directions suggested by the model itself, are needed in order to establish it firmly,” says Jean Charvolin, co-author of the study.

We found this possibility of publication very well suited to our needs, the editors were always available with a very efficient follow-up of our demands. All the documents guaranteeing the peer reviewing and the authorizations of publication are clear. The only drawback is the visible contradiction between the author instructions for the word versions and the website for testing the PDF version, but even there the editors help us very quickly and efficiently.

Jean-Marc Bordy, CEA Saclay, France
Co-Editor EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 124, 2016

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

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