Analysing the branching behaviour of hybrid potato plants using 3D plant modelling

The plant structure of potato is highly plastic. Environmental factors like light and temperature, genotype and age determine the overall plant branching pattern. In addition, the novel hybrid potato technology makes it realistic to grow potato tubers from various starting materials, namely true potato seed, seedling tuber and seed tuber.


While there are morphological differences existing in potato plants grown from different starting materials, especially in development of number of stems and types of branches. For example, plants grown from true potato seeds develop a single main stem and normally basal branches are only produced from above ground nodes, whereas more than one main stems can be developed in tuber-grown plants and several basal branches grow from below ground.

Various crop simulation models have been developed for tuber-grown potato crops to simulate total light interception, dry matter accumulation and partitioning at the population level. However, such models do not well represent the development of apical and basal branches and their contributions to canopy leaf area varied at different stem density and temperature conditions. Their roles in determining tuber yield and size distribution is still unknown. It is necessary to study the dynamics of development and growth of individual organs as regulated by source-sink relations under different environments, across developmental stages and for different propagules.

Objectives and methods

The aim of this thesis is to develop a plant model for potato, based on the principle of functional-structural plant (FSP) modelling. The purpose of this model will be to explore how genetic, management and environmental factors are linked to plant morphology, notably branching pattern, and how this relates to tuber production. Data from an extensive field trail from 2021 is available, and additional data will be collected in 2022.

Within this thesis, you will focus primarily on the development of the potato plant model, and there are possibilities to also be involved in the field work, depending on the timing of the thesis.

Types of research

  • FSP modelling
  • Data analysis
  • Possibly field work