Guillaume Salbreux

Theoretical Physics of Biology Laboratory

The Theoretical Physics in Biology Group studies how physical principles play a role in biology, in order to attain a quantitative description of biological processes at the cellular and tissue scale. To reach that goal, we use methods from soft matter physics and non-linear dynamics and develop new theoretical and computational tools. Since biological systems function out-of-equilibrium, we also aim at understanding better the physical properties of active matter.

We are especially interested in mechanics and shape generation at the level of cells and tissues. At the cell level, the cytoskeleton is driving cellular deformations and the motion of cell organelles, allowing for instance for cell division and migration. To understand these cellular processes, we need to ask how cytoskeletal filaments and motors work together and interact with other cellular components.

At the tissue level, properly orchestrated morphogenetic movements in epithelia and tissues allow animals to develop and establish their shape. Morphogenetic events rely on force generation in the cell, which has to be regulated biologically. We then ask from a physical point of view how genetic regulation and forces act together to shape the embryo.

We work in close collaboration with experimentalists to address these questions.

Selected publications

Bielmeier, C; Alt, S; Weichselberger, V; La Fortezza, M; Harz, H; Jülicher, F; Salbreux, G and Classen, A-K (2016) Interface contractility between differently fated cells drives cell elimination and cyst formation. Current Biology 26, 563-574 

Etournay, R; Popović, M;  Merkel, M; Nandi, A; Blasse, C; Aigouy, B; Brandl, H; Myers, G; Salbreux, G; Jülicher, F; and Eaton, S. (2015). Interplay of cell dynamics and epithelial tension during morphogenesis of the Drosophila pupal wingeLife, 4.

Bergert, M; Erzberger, A; Desai, RA; Aspalter, IM; Oates, AC; Charras, G; Salbreux, G and Paluch, EK (2015) Force transmission during adhesion-independent migrationNature Cell Biology 17, 524-529

Saias, L; Swoger, J; D'Angelo, A; Hayes, P; Colombelli, J; Sharpe, J; Salbreux, G and Solon, J (2015) Decrease in cell volume generates contractile forces driving dorsal closure, Developmental Cell 33, 611-621

Berthoumieux H, Maitre JL, Heisenberg CP, Paluch, E, Julicher F, Salbreux G. Active elastic thin shell theory for cellular deformations. New Journal of Physics. 2014. 16.6: 065005

Dierkes k, Sumi A, Solon J, Salbreux G. Spontaneous Oscillations of Elastic Contractile Materials with Turnover. Physical Review Letters. 2014; 113, 148102

Behrndt M1, Salbreux G, Campinho P, Hauschild R, Oswald F, Roensch J, Grill SW, Heisenberg CP. Forces driving epithelial spreading in zebrafish gastrulation. Science. 2012 Oct 12;338(6104):257-60. doi: 10.1126/science.1224143.

Sedzinski J1, Biro M, Oswald A, Tinevez JY, Salbreux G, Paluch E. Polar actomyosin contractility destabilizes the position of the cytokinetic furrow. Nature. 2011 Aug 7;476(7361):462-6


Guillaume Salbreux
+44 (0)20 379 62009

  • Qualifications and history
  • 2008 PhD in Biological Physics, CNRS-Institut Curie, Paris, France
  • 2008 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan, USA
  • 2010 Postdoctoral Guest Scientist, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex System, Dresden, Germany
  • 2011 Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex System, Dresden, Germany
  • 2015 Establishes lab at the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK