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Plant systems modelling

Plants have developed sophisticated mechanisms to capture and use resources efficiently. Complex internal molecular/biochemical mechanisms mediate the transport, accumulation, transformation of nutrients in the different compartments of the plant. Specialised structures are formed to exploit resources availability in space. While the components required for these basic processes are becoming increasingly well characterised, little is still known of their precise coordination and control in space and time. In the Plant Systems Modelling Group, we are developing new quantitative approaches to understand and predict the precise nature of the coupling between these genetic and biophysical processes. 

NEW: ERC SENSOIL project started.

Modelling the genetic, physical and environmental processes of plant growth and development

Dynamics of the root exploration waveImage showing continuous models to describe root branching structures

Plant architectures result from the activity of their meristems. We believe that the distribution of these meristems in space propagates like waves. We have developed a simple model that describes the development of this 'meristematic front'.

Plant architectural models incorporating genetic knowledge

How plant architecture responds to environmental signals is crucial for effective acquisition and competition for resources. We are developing models that incorporate the dynamic feedbacks between plant architecture, gene regulation and environmental conditions.

Continuous deformable plant models (CDPM)

A continuous approach has been developed to model the developpment of plant's branching structures. The plant's occupation of space is defined as domains that deform as a result of growth processes. The principle allows more efficient plant models to be constructed.

Image of modelling root system using Continuous Deformable Domains

Multicellular models of plant morphogenesis

The networks of cell-cell interactions determine how new organs are initiated and regulated and modified by environmental signals. We are developing multicellular models to provide a fundamental understanding of how cell-cell interactions contribute to whole plant function.

Quantitative analysis of the plant architectural development

Computational tools for studying plant architecture and developmentImage of software tools for plant biometry

We are developing methods to quantify, understand and predict plant development. These methods include image capture, mathematical modelling and computer simulation. We are using these methods as tools to collect and analyse data, build models and simulate the processes involved during plant morphogenesis.

Imaging systems

We are developing imaging systems to characterise plant growth and development. We use techniques such as Optical Projection Tomography (OPT), Biospeckle Laser Imaging, and Single Plane Illumination Microscopy.

Transparent soil

We have developed a substrate called transparent soil, with a matrix of solid particles and a pore network containing liquid and air. The physical structure was manipulated with the aim of generating 3D optical images of soil biota in a physically complex yet controllable environment. More information is on the Transparent soils page.

Image showing segmentation of plant cell architectures


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.