EPSRC Network on Evolvability in Biology & Software Systems

Evolvability, Genetics & Development in Natural and Constructed Systems: Abstracts of the EPSRC Evolvability Network Symposium

Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, Hertfordshire, England, UK
26-28 August 2003

University of Hertfordshire Computer Science Technical Report 389
C. L. Nehaniv, P. J. Bentley & S. Kumar (Editors)

Evolving Developmental Programs that Construct Multicellular ``Organisms"

Evolving Developmental Programs that Construct Multicellular ``Organisms" Capable of Metamorphosis, Segmentation and Self-Repair


School of Computer Science
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT


I describe my recent work in constructing and evolving a program inside a cell that allows the cell to grow from a single seed. The cell can read and emit simulated chemicals that undergo a simple diffusion. It is possible to evolve cell programs that develop into multicellular collections of differentiated cell types. It is also possible to evolve programs that construct a mature organism that ceases to grow beyond a certain size. Some of these organisms are highly dynamic (despite appearing to be static) and are capable of self-repair. The cell programs can also be evolved to respond to environmental signals that control the metamorphosis of the entire organism. I will show that one can do experiments on the evolved organism that are similar to those carried out by developmental biologists on real organisms.