Theoretical Biology & Bioinformatics

tree of life
Kirsten H.W.J. ten Tusscher

Kirsten ten Tusscher

Computational Developmental Biology
IBB, Department of Biology
Faculty of Science
Utrecht University
Room Z510
Padualaan 8
3584 CH Utrecht
The Netherlands
phone: +31 30 2533637
fax: +31 30 2513655
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Research Interests

I am a computational biologist who uses multi-scale simulation models to decipher the complex patterning processes that take place during the development of multicellular organisms.

Developmental programs typically involve interactions between processes at the genetic, cellular, tissue, organ and whole organism level with some processes occurring at the milleseconds whilst others playing at the days to week timescales. Integrative computational models taking into account these multi-feedback multi-scale properties have proven to be extremely powerfull for deciphering these complex processes.

Furthermore, these models enable one to do the experimentally impossible: We can test what would be the functional consequences if a certain property would arise through an alternative, non-existing patterning process rather than the actually existing one. This enables us to answer not only how a particular developmental process is operating, but also to adress why it is operating in that particular manner.

Finally, using computational models simulating the evolution of developmental programs, we can -in silico- replay the evolutionary tape again and again, and adress both how and why particular developmental programs evolved.

In my research on plant development my research focuses on the patterning of the root system and how the developmental programs respond to environmental conditions. As examples, we investigate how plants throughout their life keep generating new lateral roots, how root system architecture responds in response to saline, nitrate or phosphate starved soil, or how individual roots grow towards nutrients or away from salt. For this research we collaborate intensively with experimental groups.