Modeling Mimicry in the Microenvironment

Ruchira Datta (September 16, 2014)

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Abstract

Ecologists have long studied mimicry, in which a mimic emits some signal(s) imitating a model. A dupe receives the signal(s) and mistakes the mimic for the model, to the mimic's advantage. The literature contains a rich body of mathematical models for various cases. We focus on brood parasitism, e.g., a cuckoo substituting its egg into the nest of another bird, which incubates, hatches, and feeds it until fledging. We draw a parallel with cancerous cells mimicking phenotypes of wounded tissue, and duping the immune system into executing wound healing programs, thus cooperating in carcinogenesis. We sketch steps towards turning this into a usable model.