Home > Mbl > 2019 Seminar: Uncovering the Logic of Regeneration across Complex Living Systems
J.S. Aber, S.W. Aber, V. Valentine, 2009.

2019 Seminar: Uncovering the Logic of Regeneration across Complex Living Systems

May 16 - 21, 2019 Woods Hole, MA

2019 HOB Seminar: Schedule and Logistics

 All living systems, from microbial communities, to organisms, to     ecosystems, maintain some capacity to repair and to maintain   themselves in the face of events   that cause disturbances or damage.   For example, microbial communities can   regenerate to achieve the   same function even as species composition changes,   spinal neurons   in a lamprey can regenerate function even though their cellular wiring   changes, and ecosystems can maintain a level of resiliency in the face   of changing climate conditions. In all instances, while these biological   systems undergo stress  and damage, their parts can coordinate   responses to provide repair. But does the concept of regeneration   mean the same thing in each case? How do the regenerating parts   “know” how to cooperate to make the participating individuals and   systems healthy and whole again? How does an understanding of one   level inform the others? Is there an underlying logic of regeneation across complex living systems? These are the driving questions for this seminar. 

The 2019 MBL-ASU History of Biology Seminar will engage with these driving questions by bringing together a mix of historians, philosophers, social scientists, and biologists for a lively and intense week of presentations, discussions, and explorations. In order to do this, we propose the following ontology of components that could reasonably be involved in the regenerative process.  These provide a starting point for further discussion about whether these are the right categories and, if so, how we understand them across scales of complex living systems:
1. Detectors
Are there unit(s) or mechanism(s) that detect that an insult to the system has occurred (these could be particular species of microbes, cells, or species within an ecosystem)? Historically, what has been identified as the initiator of regeneration?
2. Responders: Are there specific units or mechanisms that respond and begin the reparative process once an insult to the system has been detected? Historically, have different units or mechanisms been identified as responders?
3. Building blocks: What units or mechanisms are co-opted or utilized by the system in order to repair what has been damaged? 
4. Positional information
: How are the building blocks arranged? How do the building blocks “know” how to be arranged in the “right” way to repair the damage and restore function to the system?
5. Stoppers: What makes the regeneration process stop when the system has been repaired?

Thomas Hunt Morgan, Sanchez Lab

Throughout the week, we will test the boundaries of this ontology, asking whether these components hold or can be identified within different cases of regeneration, and across different levels of organization. We will revise this ontology as we learn more about how regeneration operates in different cases and at different levels of organization, and how it has been conceived of historically, with an eye towards understanding whether there is an underlying logic of regeneration, and if so, what that logical framework looks like.



MBL-ASU 2019 Seminar Organizers Jessica Mark Welch et al., PNAS.1522149113Kate MacCord, Marine Biological Laboratory
Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University and Marine Biological Laboratory
Kathryn Maxson Jones, Princeton University and Marine Biological Laboratory

MBL-ASU Seminar Directors: John Beatty, University of British Columbia; James Collins, Arizona State University; Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University; Karl Matlin, University of Chicago

The History of Biology Seminar is offered in collaboration with and is funded by Arizona State University. View past topics.

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