Mathematical models of hyphal tip growth

  • Mai Mohd Jaffar

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Filamentous fungi are important in an enormous variety of ways to our life, with examples ranging from bioremediation, through the food and drinks industry to human health. These organisms can form huge networks stretching metres and even kilometres. However, their mode of growth is by the extension of individual hyphal tips only a few microns in diameter. Tip growth is mediated by the incorporation of new wall building materials at the soft apex. Just how this process is controlled (in fungi and in cell elongation in other organisms) has been the subject of intense study over many years and has attracted considerable attention from mathematical modellers. In this thesis, we consider mathematical models of fungal tip growth that can be classified as either geometrical or biomechanical. In every model we examine, a 2-D axisymmetric semihemisphere-like curve represents half the medial section of fungal tip geometry. A geometrical model for the role of the Spitzenkorper in the tip growth was proposed by Bartnicki-Garcia et al (1989), where a number of problems with the mathematical derivation were pointed out by Koch (2001). A suggestion is given as an attempt to revise the derivation by introducing a relationship between arc length of a growing tip, deposition of wall-building materials and tip curvature. We also consider two types of geometrical models as proposed by Goriely et al (2005). The first type considers a relationship between the longitudinal curvature and the function used to model deposition of wall-building materials. For these types of models, a generalized formulae for the tip shape is introduced, which allows localization of deposition of wall-building materials to be examined. The second type considers a relationship between longitudinal and latitudinal curvatures and the function used to model deposition of wall-building materials. For these types of models, a new formulation of the function used to model deposition of wall-building materials is introduced. Finally, a biomechanical model as proposed by Goriely et al (2010). Varying arc length of the stretchable region on the tip suggests differences in geometry of tip shape and the effective pressure profile. The hypothesis of orthogonal growth is done by focusing only on the apex of a "germ tube". Following that, it suggests that material points on the tip appear to move in a direction perpendicular to the tip either when surface friction is increased or decreased.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsMinistry of Higher Education, Malaysia
    SupervisorFordyce Davidson (Supervisor)


    • Mathematics
    • Mathematical biology
    • Fungal growth
    • Mathematical modelling
    • Geometrical model
    • Biomechanical model
    • Vesicle-Based model

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