Cell lab and evolution

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Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:57 pm

Cell lab and evolution

Post by Vit »

Hi Devs, first of all I wanted to congratulate you, I'm a biologist and professor and see a lot of potential in cell lab as a tool for teaching evolution. With that said, I have found a couple of limitations and things that maybe could be improved, I'll try organizing my ideas here.

Showcasing plates: it would be great if Cell Lab had a similar tab to the one of challenges with plates for showcasing interesting organisms and ecosystems without having to complete challenges, for example.
- a plate that when run allows a simple organism to mutate and become more complex (simple evolution)
- a plate that when run allows a complex organism to be simplified by evolution, losing expensive abilities (challenging the false notion that more complex is always more adaptive)
- a plate were a predator and a prey evolve to keep up with each other (co-evolution).
- etc...

Evolutionary intermediary steps: one of the preconditions for the evolution of complex adaptations is that the intermediary steps are adaptive also, that's how you evolve from simple photoreceptors that detect presence or absence of light to ocellus that see light to eyes that see images, you can't directly evolve an eye because it's too complex and also can't evolve half an eye and then the rest because half an eye would serve no function. I think that this is one of the biggest obstacles for the evolution in Cell Lab of interesting organisms such as smart swimmers but a few tweaks could improve this.
- Devorocite: this cell could be set to avoid attacking cells it's connected to and in doing so, two-celled predatory organisms could easily evolve that later would be displaced by the proper tri-celled organisms protected by keratinocites
- Keratinocite: it would be interesting if this cell could extend its protective effect further than the cells inmediatly connected to it (perhaps at the cost of a higher maintenance), this would make considerably easier the evolution of smart predators. Also, it would be great if they didn't give full immunity to predation but a regulated resistance to it, that way a smart predator could still hunt organisms that invested little in their keratinocites.
- Secondary cell type: most cells can't feed themselves and its hard for them to get in the right setting to be useful, I it would be useful for these cells to have the option of choosing a "secondary type" among phagocite, photocite and devorocite, their feeding could be less efficient or perhaps having a secondary type could make them more costly to produce but this would allow for things like a tri-celled smart swimmer evolving with two flagellocites and a single stereocite-phagocite.

Evolutionary tools: sometimes we want to see the evolution of a specific type of organism but it's hard to get the right settings and maybe this could help.
- Directed contamination: an option to contaminate a plate only with a preloaded genome would be great.
- Regions: it would be great if plates could have regions with different food and maybe viscosity or friction as is the case for light This would allow for example for a not so smart swimmer to live close to where food is abundant and learn to survive further and further away.
- shielded from mutations: it would be useful to have the option to select certain cell modes from an organism to prevent them from mutating. That way you can direct evolution to get more interesting organisms.
- Cell limit: certain cells have a tendency to proliferate to the point that they reach the cell limit and manage to eliminate even their predators by not allowing them to reproduce. It would be great if this could be fixed, maybe it could be made that an organism that eats another gets the "right" (maybe as an invisible resource?) to reproduce and fill the freed "space".

Other ideas: just things I though could be interesting.
- Stereocyte: It would be interesting if they could see light, and they could also have an extra input to allow for more complex behaviors.
- Keratinocite: they could have an option like "extracellular matrix" that fixed them in place and maybe lure food towards them?
- Secrocite: a soluble toxin to kill near cells without touching them could be interesting.
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