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One of the fundamental questions in developmental biology is how the vast range of pattern and structure we observe in nature emerges from an almost uniformly homogeneous fertilized egg. In particular, the mechanisms by which biological systems maintain robustness, despite being subject to numerous sources of noise, are shrouded in mystery. Postulating plausible theoretical models of biological heterogeneity is not only difficult, but it is also further complicated by the problem of generating robustness, i.e. once we can generate a pattern, how do we ensure that this pattern is consistently reproducible in the face of perturbations to the domain, reaction time scale, boundary conditions and so forth. In this paper, not only do we review the basic properties of Turing's theory, we highlight the successes and pitfalls of using it as a model for biological systems, and discuss emerging developments in the area.

Original publication




Journal article


Interface Focus

Publication Date





487 - 496


Turing, biological pattern formation, robustness problem