Self-Organization of Biological Systems

  • Satoshi Murata
  • Haruhisa Kurokawa
Part of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics book series (STAR, volume 77)


Biological creatures have abilities to generate various kinds of order in a self-organizing manner, and therefore they can be regarded as autonomous distributed systems. When we see biological organisms as autonomous distributed systems, cells are the components of these organisms, because each cell behaves autonomously as an individual entity, taking in substances and energy from the external world, carrying out its own reactions, responding to environmental changes, and even reproducing itself. Moreover, in the case of multicellular organisms, each cell differentiates from others and specializes to have particular functions in order that an assembly of cells can generate complex structures. Such an assembly can act as an autonomous individual that realizes intricate functions which cannot be carried out by individual cells. If we regard individual animals as components, herds of animals are also a kind of self-organizing system. These herds exhibit a variety of complex and clever behavior, in which distinct roles may be allotted to different members of a herd, or in which individuals of different species are in symbiotic relations. The notions of autonomous distributed systems and design by self-organization introduced in the previous chapter were born from abstraction of such biological systems. Mechanisms in biological systems are the result of four billion years of evolution, and in them we can find many clues for artificial system design. In this chapter, we introduce typical and important examples of mechanisms in biological entities.


Multicellular Organism Double Helix Molecular Machine Complementary Base Pair Cellular Slime Mold 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alberts, B., et al.: Molecular Biology of The Cell, 3rd edn., Garland Sci. (1994)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Watson, J.D., et al.: Molecular Biology of The Gene, 5th edn. Cold Spring Harbor Lab Press (2003)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ito, M.: Construction of Decentralized Autonomous Systems. J. Soc. Instrum. Control Eng. (Keisoku to Seigyo) 29(10) (1990) (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wolpert, L.: Positional Information and the Spatial Pattern of Cellular Differentiation. J. Theor. Biol. 5, 1–47 (1969)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Turing, A.M.: The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis. Philos. Trans. Royal Soc. Lond. B 237(641), 37–72 (1952)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kondo, S., Asai, R.: A reaction-diffusion wave on the skin of the marine angelfish Pomacanthus. Nature 376, 765–768 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Shimoyama, N., et al.: Collective Motion in a System of Mobile Elements. Phys. Rev. Lett. 76(20), 3870–3873 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Haruhisa Kurokawa, Satoshi Murata 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioengineering and Robotic Graduate School of EngineeringTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  2. 2.Intelligent Systems Institute Field Robotics Research GroupNational Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (AIST)TsukubaJapan

Personalised recommendations