Phenotypic plasticity in plant structure

This project aims at deploying a 3D functional-structural plant modelling (FSPM) approach, enabling integration of physiological, morphological, and genetic knowledge to analyse phenotypic plasticity of plant structure.

Plasticity is the ability of an organism of a particular genetic make-up to adjust its phenotype in response to environmental fluctuations. Plasticity results from a chain of events, starting with perception of environmental cues, production and transport of signals and resulting in adaptations in plant structure. This research focuses on plastic responses resulting from intra-specific competition for light. Wheat and rice (Poaceae family) and Arabidopsis are chosen as model plant species. Side shoot production is the main determinant of plant structure in Poaceae. Wheat and rice show contrasting plasticity in their tillering response to intra-specific competition, wheat showing a stronger response than rice.

Modelling generates specific knowledge complementary to experimental observations, as processes are studied in the context of the whole plant system and environmental interactions. An aspect of this specific knowledge is that the dynamics in structure of plant populations is emergent from simulation of the plastic behaviour of individual plants interacting with one another.

This NWO Veni project started in April 2008 and ended in June 2011.