The Biological Complexity Unit studies how stochastic fluctuations influence the dynamics of biological systems, and the strategies implemented by biological systems to cope with these fluctuations. We aim at understanding of these phenomena by means of theoretical methods and computational approaches typical of non-equilibrium statistical physics.
Speed, accuracy and dissipation in sub-cellular systems
Biological functions at the sub-cellular level are often performed with remarkable accuracy and speed, despite the presence of thermal fluctuations. We want to understand the physical limits to the performance of these processes and how close specific biological systems are to these limits. Specific systems include enzymes responsible of copying biological information (as in DNA replication, transcription and translation) and quick and accurate target finding of transcription factors.
Population genetics of spatially-distributed populations
We are interested in understanding spatial dynamics of biological populations by exploiting analogies with non-equilibrium physical systems. When populations face complex environments fluctuating in space and time, it is not trivial to assess what determines fitness, therefore the outcome of competition. In this framework, we want to study the impact of fluid transport on microbial populations, to understand general principles of genetic diversity in marine environments.
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