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On the computing potential of intracellular vesicles

Mayne, Richard; Adamatzky, Andrew

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Richard Mayne
Lecturer in Maths Supporting Science


© 2015 Mayne, Adamatzky. Collision-based computing (CBC) is a form of unconventional computing in which travelling localisations represent data and conditional routing of signals determines the output state; collisions between localisations represent logical operations. We investigated patterns of Ca2+-containing vesicle distribution within a live organism, slime mould Physarum polycephalum, with confocal microscopy and observed them colliding regularly. Vesicles travel down cytoskeletal 'circuitry' and their collisions may result in reflection, fusion or annihilation. We demonstrate through experimental observations that naturally-occurring vesicle dynamics may be characterised as a computationally-universal set of Boolean logical operations and present a 'vesicle modification' of the archetypal CBC 'billiard ball model' of computation. We proceed to discuss the viability of intracellular vesicles as an unconventional computing substrate in which we delineate practical considerations for reliable vesicle 'programming' in both in vivo and in vitro vesicle computing architectures and present optimised designs for both single logical gates and combinatorial logic circuits based on cytoskeletal network conformations. The results presented here demonstrate the first characterisation of intracelluar phenomena as collision-based computing and hence the viability of biological substrates for computing.


Mayne, R., & Adamatzky, A. (2015). On the computing potential of intracellular vesicles. PLoS ONE, 10(10), e0139617.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 15, 2015
Publication Date Oct 2, 2015
Deposit Date Dec 16, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2016
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 10
Pages e0139617
Keywords intracellular vesicles, collision-based computing, unconventional computing
Public URL
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