Pattern formation in electrically coupled pacemaker cells : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Fatoyinbo, Hammed
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
In this thesis we study electrical activity in smooth muscle cells in the absence of external stimulation. The main goal is to analyse a reaction-diffusion system that models the dynamical behaviour where adjacent cells are coupled through passive electrical coupling. We first analyse the dynamics of an isolated muscle cell for which the model consists of three first-order ordinary differential equations. The cell is either excitable, nonexcitable, or oscillatory depending on the model parameters. To understand this we reduce the model to two equations, nondimensionalise, then perform a detailed numerical bifurcation analysis of the nondimensionalised model. One parameter bifurcation diagrams reveal that even though there is no external stimulus the cell can exhibit two fundamentally distinct types of excitability. By computing two-parameter bifurcation diagrams we are able to explain how the cell transitions between the two types of excitability as parameters are varied. We then study the full reaction-diffusion system first through numerical integration. We show that the system is capable of exhibiting a wide variety of spatiotemporal behaviours such as travelling pulses, travelling fronts, and spatiotemporal chaos. Through a linear stability analysis we are able to show that the spatiotemporal patterns are not due to diffusion-driven instability as is often the case for reaction-diffusion systems. It is as a consequence of the nonlinear dynamics of the reaction terms and coupling effect of diffusion. The precise mechanism is not yet well understood, this will be subject of future work. We then examine travelling wave solutions in detail. In particular we show how they relate to homoclinic and heteroclinic solutions in travelling wave coordinates. Finally we review spectral stability analysis for travelling waves and compute the essential spectrum of travelling waves in our system.
Figures are re-used with permission.
Pacemaker cells, Smooth muscle, Pattern formation (Biology), Mathematical models