Towards mechanistic models of plant organ growth
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Sciences. Mathematics and Computer Science
Journal of experimental botany. - Oxford
, p. 3325-3337
University of Antwerp
Modelling and simulation are increasingly used as tools in the study of plant growth and developmental processes. By formulating experimentally obtained knowledge as a system of interacting mathematical equations, it becomes feasible for biologists to gain a mechanistic understanding of the complex behaviour of biological systems. In this review, the modelling tools that are currently available and the progress that has been made to model plant development, based on experimental knowledge, are described. In terms of implementation, it is argued that, for the modelling of plant organ growth, the cellular level should form the cornerstone. It integrates the output of molecular regulatory networks to two processes, cell division and cell expansion, that drive growth and development of the organ. In turn, these cellular processes are controlled at the molecular level by hormone signalling. Therefore, combining a cellular modelling framework with regulatory modules for the regulation of cell division, expansion, and hormone signalling could form the basis of a functional organ growth simulation model. The current state of progress towards this aim is that the regulation of the cell cycle and hormone transport have been modelled extensively and these modules could be integrated. However, much less progress has been made on the modelling of cell expansion, which urgently needs to be addressed. A limitation of the current generation models is that they are largely qualitative. The possibilities to characterize existing and future models more quantitatively will be discussed. Together with experimental methods to measure crucial model parameters, these modelling techniques provide a basis to develop a Systems Biology approach to gain a fundamental insight into the relationship between gene function and whole organ behaviour.