The formation of stripe patterns in animal skin has been explained by the reaction-diffusion (RD) system, a hypothetical chemical reaction proposed by A. Turing. Although animal stripes usually have directionality, the RD model alone cannot explain how the direction is specified. To investigate the mechanism regulating the direction of stripes, we studied stripe pattern formation in two species of Genicanthus during sexual conversion. These species share almost identical morphologic properties, except for their stripe direction. In both species, spots transiently arise at random positions and then combine and rearrange to form directional stripes. Computational analysis has shown that diffusion anisotropy is very effective at specifying the direction of stripes formed by the RD system. Model simulations reproduce the transient dynamics of directional pattern formation observed in fish as well as the resulting stripes. In cases where the magnitude and direction of diffusion anisotropy of the substances are identical, the resulting stripes are not directional. However, if they differ, stripes become directional. As only a small difference in anisotropy is required for this effect, any kind of structure with directional conformation might cause a marked change in stripe direction. Scales are the most likely candidate structure for generating anisotropic interactions in skin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology