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Modelling: Rock Paper Scissors



Our bacterial interpretation of Rock-Paper-Scissors was to use three types of cell and have their interactions governed by the rules of the game. At the start of a simulation the cells are randomly distributed across the medium and will be expressing their particular fluorescent proteins. Each cell continuously produces quorum molecules to attempt to inhibit their rival cell’s fluorescence proteins. Due to the initial random distribution of the cells, areas with a higher concentration of one type of cell will arise. This cell type will dominate the area, causing them to remain ‘alive’ for longer.


As the results below show, patches with cells of a single type rapidly appear. Scissors-type cells disappear first as they were not lucky enough to form large enough patches to compete with the other participants. It is also possible for no cells to be left ‘alive’ at the end of a game as messenger molecules continue to diffuse long after a cell has succumbed to its opposing molecule.





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