Stress-dependent amplification of active forces in nonlinear elastic media
The production of mechanical stresses in living organisms largely relies on localized, force-generating active units embedded in filamentous matrices. Numerical simulations of discrete fiber networks with fixed boundaries have shown that buckling in the matrix dramatically amplifies the resulting active stresses. Here we extend this result to a continuum elastic medium prone to buckling subjected to an arbitrary external stress, and derive analytical expressions for the active, nonlinear constitutive relations characterizing the full active medium. Inserting these relations into popular “active gel” descriptions of living tissues and the cytoskeleton will enable investigations into nonlinear regimes previously inaccessible due to the phenomenological nature of these theories.