Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Hydrodynamic instabilities, waves and turbulence in spreading epithelia


We present a hydrodynamic model of spreading epithelial monolayers described as polar viscous fluids, with active contractility and traction on the substrate. The combination of both active forces generate an instability that leads to nonlinear traveling waves, which propagate in the direction of polarity with characteristic time scales that depend on contact forces. Our viscous fluid model provides a comprehensive understanding of a variety of observations on the slow dynamics of epithelial monolayers, remarkably those that seemed to be characteristic of elastic media. The model makes also simple predictions to test the non-elastic nature of the mechanical waves, and provides new insights into collective cell dynamics, explaining plithotaxis as a result of strong flow-polarity coupling, and quantifying the non-locality of force transmission. In addition, we study the nonlinear regime of waves deriving an exact map of the model into the Complex Ginzburg-Landau equation, which provides a complete classification of possible nonlinear scenarios. In particular, we predict the transition to different forms of weak turbulence, which in turn could explain the chaotic dynamics often observed in epithelia.

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 06 Jun 2017, accepted on 07 Aug 2017 and first published on 07 Aug 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01128H
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017, Accepted Manuscript
  •   Request permissions

    Hydrodynamic instabilities, waves and turbulence in spreading epithelia

    C. Blanch Mercader and J. Casademunt, Soft Matter, 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01128H

Search articles by author