Two Long-Standing Puzzles in Physical Biology, Solved


Xin Wang, Harvard Medical School & Brigham and Women’s Hospital


2019.04.29 15:45-16:45


Room 306, No. 5 Science Building


The first puzzle is a classical problem in microbiology dating back to Jacques Monod that bacteria grown on two carbon sources either consume both sources simultaneously or consume them sequentially. Here we use a metabolic network model of E. coli to show that optimal protein resource allocation and topological features of the metabolic network can quantitatively explain the choice of carbon acquisition. The second puzzle is an outstanding challenge in theoretical ecology named Competitive Exclusion Principle: the number of consumer species in steady coexistence cannot exceed that of resources. Here we show that by forming chasing triplets among the consumers and resources in the predation process, the Competitive Exclusion Principle can be naturally violated.


Dr. Xin Wang is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School & Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. He received his PhD in Physics from Peking University, and he was a postdoc at Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford, UK, before joining Harvard. His research interest lies at the interface between physics and biology. He worked on systems biology problems such as cell growth, cell cycle and seed germination networks, biophysical problems like biofilm growth, and theoretical ecology problems. His related studies published in journals such as Nature Communications, eLife, PNAS, New Journal of Physics as the first or co-first author (also as the first theoretical author).