Int. J. Dev. Biol. 53: 783 - 794 (2009)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072493rb
© UPV/EHU Press

Waves and patterning in developmental biology: vertebrate segmentation and feather bud formation as case studies

Ruth E. Baker*,1, Santiago Schnell2 and Philip K. Maini1,3

1Centre for Mathematical Biology, University of Oxford, UK, 2Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology and Center for Computational Medicine & Biology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA and 3Oxford Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, University of Oxford, UK

ABSTRACT In this article we will discuss the integration of developmental patterning mechanisms with waves of competency that control the ability of a homogeneous field of cells to react to pattern forming cues and generate spatially heterogeneous patterns. We base our discussion around two well known patterning events that take place in the early embryo: somitogenesis and feather bud formation. We outline mathematical models to describe each patterning mechanism, present the results of numerical simulations and discuss the validity of each model in relation to our example patterning processes.


developmental waves, patterning mechanisms, mathematical modelling, somitogenesis

*Corresponding author e-mail: