Distinguished EPJ Referees

EPJ B Topical Issue: Extreme Value Statistics and Search in Biology: Theory and Simulations

Submissions are invited for a Topical Issue of EPJ B on Extreme Value Statistics and Search in Biology: Theory and Simulations.

The reliability of the functioning of biological systems is still puzzling taking into account that many processes governing this functioning are prone to strong fluctuations on very different scales. In many cases these processes rely on a single or a few events, for example, those starting a signalling cascade, and may be dominated by the first or the first successful encounter of the corresponding units. Such encounters are often modelled as different variants of random search processes. The analysis of such processes pertinent to specific biological situations shows that in many cases a search process by a single agent is extremely ineffective, with typical encounter times considerably larger than what is necessary from the biological point of view. Therefore, the successful encounters are rare events.

To overcome the inefficiency of a single search attempt, nature often uses either parallel or sequential search strategies, compensating rareness of successful encounters either by redundancy of agents (using many copies of a single unit) or by repeated search (stopping an unsuccessful attempt and starting a new one). In the first case the mathematical description relies on the laws of extreme statistics, in the second one on renewal theory, but these only give the rough directions of research. There is still the need to develop the associated theory and models relating the properties of physical motion (Brownian motion, sub- or super-diffusion, active transport, etc.) to the cellular constraints, to define relevant small and large parameters, scaling relations, and thermodynamic constraints.

Stochastic simulations at a molecular level are an indispensable tool in the analysis of the behaviour of complex systems such as cells. However, a direct, naïve stochastic simulation of a very ineffective search process, like a stochastic motion of an agent which has to find and hit a small domain of its phase space, would be equally ineffective. What are the ways to speed up the simulations by introducing effective sampling procedures or mesoscopic models? What details can be given up, what are the borders not to cross? Designing fast and robust simulation approaches, possibly based on reduced physical models, is not easy, but will bring considerable gain in our understanding of how the cells work.

The aim of the current topical issue is to summarize efforts in the directions mentioned above, with specific applications in cellular transduction (sensory detection), gene activation, chromatin dynamics, signaling in cells and more.

The issue is open to everyone working in the field. We invite contributors to communicate their intention to submit manuscripts for this Topical Issue to the Guest Editors as soon as possible. Please provide the tentative title of the paper and a short abstract. The full manuscripts should be submitted before the deadline directly to the EPJB Editorial Office at https://articlestatus.edpsciences.org/is/epjb.

Deadline for submission: November 30, 2020

Submissions should be clearly identified as intended for the Topical Issue " Extreme Value Statistics and Search in Biology: Theory and Simulations". Papers will be published continuously and will appear (as soon as accepted) on the journal website. The electronic version of the Topical Issue will contain all accepted papers in the order of publication. All submitted papers will be refereed according to the usual high standards of the journal. More general information about EPJB including instructions for authors is available at http://epjb.epj.org/.

Guest Editors:

David Holcman, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
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Igor Sokolov, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
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Open Access

EPJ is a hybrid journal offering Open Access publication via the Open Choice programme. We have a growing number of Springer Compact “Publish and Read” arrangements – see here – which enable authors to publish OA at no direct cost (all costs are paid centrally). As of April 2020 this list includes Austria, the Netherlands, Qatar, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Poland, the UK, Switzerland and Germany.

Open calls for papers