The project goal is to achieve a map of of biomechanical functions driving embryonic development multiscale integration of multiscale integration of function in cell aggregates and early stages of development Understanding of interdependencies between collective cell dynamics, tissue mechanics and biological determinants of developmental process Discovery of multiscale integration of function in cell aggregates and early stages of development Mathematical

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Aim of the project

The goal of our collaborative project (Multiscale mechanics and self-organizing processes in developing systems) is to understand how embryonic development is regulated by mechanical forces generated by the cells, tissues and the whole organism. The execution of developmental processes and the proper organization of embryonic tissues depend on the ability of cells to reliably migrate in coordinated fashion. How does such tissue-level coordination emerge from processes that at the single cell level are largely dominated by stochastic molecular and sub-cellular processes? What is the role of multiscale mechanics in these self-organizing processes? In our collaborative ANID ACT192015 project we address these fundamental questions advancing our understanding of the origin and persistence of life.


We conduct experimental and theoretical research combining  in vivo, in vitro and in silico approaches to embryos of annual killifish connecting the nanoscale mechano-molecular processes of cell interfaces, active matter dynamics, and system-level processes that drive embryonic development.

In vivo

We use advanced laser-based in vivo imaging techniques such as light-sheet microscopy, image processing and biomechanical manipulation to study the mechanical components, multiscale dynamics and environmental cues leading to cell aggregation in embryos of annual killifish, the first stage of development that give rise to multicellular organization.

In vitro

We use cutting-edge in vitro techniques such as microfabrication and super resolution microscopy to engineer the embryonic environment and investigate the molecular and mechanical properties and multiscale dynamics of isolated annual killifish embryonic stem cells, and the emerging properties of cellular aggregates.

In silico

Leveraging our expertise in image processing and large-scale computational modelling of cell populations, we develop in silico models, calibrated to experimental data, to understand the principles of the self-organizing processes that lead to cell aggregation in the early annual killifish embryo and to dissect the contribution of autonomous cell behaviors and mechanical cell-cell and ell-environment interactions.



Join us to our biweekly webinars. Please register at

Upcoming events:


Dr. Yusuke Toyama
''Mechanical role of apoptosis in tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis ''.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 10am (Chile Time)

For the zoom link register @ or follow live on our YouTube channel

Past events:

Dr. Ronen Zaidel-Bar
''Principles of actomyosin regulation in vivo ''.

Wednesday, 28 Oct. 2020

Dr. Andrew Holle
''A Tight Squeeze: Cancer cell migration in confining microenvironments''.

Wednesday 30th Sept, 2020

Open positions

We are looking for highly motivated and passionate Ph.D. students and postdocs. Applicants with a background in cell biology, embryonic development, biophysics, bioengineering and mechanobiology are strongly encouraged to apply. For more information, please contact


May 12th , 2021

Cristina Bertocchi. “Title»

Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) seminar series- Hosted by Glenn Radice, Brown University. Register Here. More information on Here

December 2nd-4th , 2020

Cristina Bertochi, PhD. “Mechano-molecular mechanisms regulating cell adhesion nanomachines»

Annual Meeting of the Molecular Biology Society of Japan MBSJ2020. More information on MBSJ2020

December 1st , 2020

Andrea Ravasio, Miguel Concha, Verena Ruprecht, Nils Gauthier. “Forces, adhesion and cell/tissue dynamics in development and transforming systems»

Chilean Society for Cell Biology (SBCCH). 2020 Coloquium Series in Cell Biology. More information on SBCCH

September 21th , 2020

Andrea Ravasio, Miguel L Concha, Cristina Bertocchi, Timothy J Rudge, Mauricio Cerda. ANEB (Asociación Nacional Estudiantes de Bioquimica): Miniseries of talks on mechanobiology of development. Santiago, Chile.

November 12th , 2020

Miguel Concha, PhD. “Title” International Gastrulation talks_Summer 2020. Santiago, Chile-via ZOOM.

May 13 th, 2020

Andrea Ravasio PhD. The unresolved connection between tissue geometry, motility.

«mechanisms and actin flows”. e-Seminar for the Faculty of Physics, University of Chile. Santiago, Chile -via ZOOM.


Highlighted Publications from our team:

  • Original research:

Ravasio A, Cheddadi I, Chen T, Pereira T, Ong HT, Bertocchi C, Brugues A, Jacinto A, Kabla AJ, Toyama Y, Trepat X, Gov N, Almeida L, Ladoux B. Mechanical coupling between purse-string and cell crawling regulates epithelial gap closure. Nature Communications. 2015 Jul 9; 6:7683. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8683.

Bertocchi C, Wang Y, Ravasio A, Wu Y, Sailov T, Baird MA, Davidson MW, Zaidel-Bar R, Ladoux B, Mege RM, and Kanchanawong P. Nanoscale architecture of cadherin-based cell adhesions. Nature Cell Biology. 2017 Jan; 19(1): 28-37.

Reig G, Cerda M, Sepúlveda N, Flores D, Castañeda V, Tada M, Härtel S, Concha ML. Extra-embryonic tissue spreading directs early embryo morphogenesis in killifish. Nat Commun. 2017 Jun 5; 8:15431. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15431.

Pereiro L., Loosli F., Fernández J., Hartel S., Wittbrodt J., Concha M.L. Gastrulation in an annual killifish: molecular and cellular events during germ layer formation in Austrolebias. Dev Dyn 2017 doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24496.

Timothy J. Rudge, Fernán Federici, Paul J. Steiner, Anton Kan, and Jim Haseloff. Cell Polarity-Driven Instability Generates Self-Organized, Fractal Patterning of Cell Layers. ACS Synth. Biol. 2013, 2, 12, 705–714.

  • Reviews:

Vedula SR, Ravasio A, Lim CT, Ladoux B. Collective Cell Migration: A mechanistic perspective. Physiology. 2013 Nov;28(6):370-9

Reig G, Pulgar E, and Concha ML. (2014) Cell migration: from tissue culture to embryos. Development 141:1999-2013.

Project Publications:

Joy-Immediato M, Ramirez RM, Cerda M, Toyama Y, Ravasio A, Kanchanawong P and Bertocchi C. Junctional ER organization affects mechanotransduction at cadherin-mediated adhesions. Front. Cell Dev. Biol. – Cell Adhesion and Migration doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.669086. Manuscript Id: 669086 (

Hernández-Cáceres MP, Munoz L, Pradena J, Pena F, Lagos Munoz P, Aceiton P, Owen GI, Morselli E, Ravasio A*, and Bertocchi C*. Mechanobiology of autophagy: the unexplored side of cancer. Front Oncol. 2021; 11:632956. eCollection 2021 (

Bertocchi C, Rudge T, Ravasio A. Scanning angle interference microscopy (SAIM): acquisition, analysis and biological applications. CRC book: Methods in Signal Transduction series – volume: New Techniques for Studying Biomembranes (DOI: 10.1201/9780429461385).

Hernández-Cáceres MP, Cerceda K, Hernandez S, Li Y, Narro C, Rivera P, Silva P, Ávalos Y, Jara C, Burgos P, Toledo L, Lagos P, Cifuentes F, Yu L, Perez-Leighton C, Bertocchi C, Clegg D, Criollo A, Tapia C, Burgos P, Morselli E. Palmitic acid reduces the autophagic flux in hypothalamic neurons by impairing autophagosome-lysosome fusion and endolysosomal dynamics. Molecular and Cellular Oncology 2020 (

Rojas N, Rudge TJ, Cerda M, Ravasio A. Cohesive energy and interaction of superparamagnetic aggregates. AIP Advances. 2020.