As an injury heals, an embryo develops or a carcinoma spreads, epithelial cells systematically change their shape. In each of these processes cell shape is studied extensively whereas variability of shape from cell to cell is regarded most often as biological noise. But where do cell shape and its variability come from? Here we report that cell shape and shape variability are mutually constrained through a relationship that is purely geometrical. That relationship is shown to govern processes as diverse as maturation of the pseudostratified bronchial epithelial layer cultured from non-asthmatic or asthmatic donors, and formation of the ventral furrow in the Drosophila embryo. Across these and other epithelial systems, shape variability collapses to a family of distributions that is common to all. That distribution, in turn, is accounted for by a mechanistic theory of cell–cell interaction, showing that cell shape becomes progressively less elongated and less variable as the layer becomes progressively more jammed. These findings suggest a connection between jamming and geometry that spans living organisms and inert jammed systems, and thus transcends system details. Although molecular events are needed for any complete theory of cell shape and cell packing, observations point to the hypothesis that jamming behaviour at larger scales of organization sets overriding geometric constraints.
We use confocal microscopy to measure velocity and interfacial tension between a trapped wetting phase with a surfactant and a flowing, invading nonwetting phase in a porous medium. We relate interfacial tension variations at the fluid-fluid interface to surfactant concentration and show that these variations localize the destabilization of capillary forces and lead to rapid local invasion of the nonwetting fluid, resulting in a Haines jump. These spatial variations in surfactant concentration are caused by velocity variations at the fluid-fluid interfaces and lead to localization of the Haines jumps even in otherwise very uniform pore structure and pressure conditions. Our results provide new insight into the nature of Haines jumps, one of the most ubiquitous and important instabilities in flow in porous media.
We present a regularized version of the color gradient lattice Boltzmann (LB) scheme for the simulation of droplet formation in microfluidic devices of experimental relevance. The regularized version is shown to provide computationally efficient access to capillary number regimes relevant to droplet generation via microfluidic devices, such as flow-focusers and the more recent microfluidic step emulsifier devices.