Putting theory to the test : which regulatory mechanisms can drive realistic growth of a root?
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Sciences. Mathematics and Computer Science
San Francisco, Calif.
PLoS computational biology. - San Francisco, Calif.
, 19 p.
University of Antwerp
In recent years there has been a strong development of computational approaches to mechanistically understand organ growth regulation in plants. In this study, simulation methods were used to explore which regulatory mechanisms can lead to realistic output at the cell and whole organ scale and which other possibilities must be discarded as they result in cellular patterns and kinematic characteristics that are not consistent with experimental observations for the Arabidopsis thaliana primary root. To aid in this analysis, a 'Uniform Longitudinal Strain Rule' (ULSR) was formulated as a necessary condition for stable, unidirectional, symplastic growth. Our simulations indicate that symplastic structures are robust to differences in longitudinal strain rates along the growth axis only if these differences are small and short-lived. Whereas simple cell-autonomous regulatory rules based on counters and timers can produce stable growth, it was found that steady developmental zones and smooth transitions in cell lengths are not feasible. By introducing spatial cues into growth regulation, those inadequacies could be avoided and experimental data could be faithfully reproduced. Nevertheless, a root growth model based on previous polar auxin-transport mechanisms violates the proposed ULSR due to the presence of lateral gradients. Models with layer-specific regulation or layer-driven growth offer potential solutions. Alternatively, a model representing the known cross-talk between auxin, as the cell proliferation promoting factor, and cytokinin, as the cell differentiation promoting factor, predicts the effect of hormone-perturbations on meristem size. By down-regulating PIN-mediated transport through the transcription factor SHY2, cytokinin effectively flattens the lateral auxin gradient, at the basal boundary of the division zone, (thereby imposing the ULSR) to signal the exit of proliferation and start of elongation. This model exploration underlines the value of generating virtual root growth kinematics to dissect and understand the mechanisms controlling this biological system.