It is becoming increasingly clear that mechanical interactions play a crucial role in controlling cellular behaviours in development and morphogenesis. However, it is often unclear how to use these observations at the cell-level to understand the development of entire tissues. In particular, inferring cellular behaviour from tissue-level experimental observations is complicated due to the multiple interactions and feedbacks that are dynamically occurring between cells and their microenvironments.
I will here demonstrate two different approaches. In the first, individual based simulations are used to tackle the problem from the bottom-up by postulating individual cell behaviours before growing the tissue in silico. The second adopts a top-down approach using a continuum description of the whole tissue that is integrated with mechanical models for individual cellular behaviour. These models are used to explain cellular self-organization in the paradigm developmental system of Drosophila melanogaster and to infer individual cellular force generation from traction force assays.