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Two decades of functional–structural plant modelling: now addressing fundamental questions in systems biology and predictive ecology

Abstract : Background Functional-structural plant models (FSPMs) explore and integrate relationships between a plant's structure and processes that underlie its growth and development. In the last 20 years. scientists interested in functional-structural plant modelling have expanded greatly the range of topics covered and now handle dynamical models of growth and development occurring from the microscopic scale, and involving cell division in plant meristems, to the macroscopic scales of whole plants and plant communities. Soope The FSPM approach occupies a central position in plant science; it is at the crossroads of fundamental questions in systems biology and predictive ecology. This special issue of Annals of Botany features selected papers on critical areas covered by FSPMs and examples of comprehensive models that are used to solve theoretical and applied questions, ranging from developmental biology to plant phenotyping and management of plants for agronomic purposes. Altogether, they offer an opportunity to assess the progress, gaps and bottlenecks along the research path originally foreseen for FSPMs two decades ago. This review also allows discussion of current challenges of FSPMs regarding (1) integration of multidisciplinary knowledge, (2) methods for handling complex models, (3) standards to achieve interoperability and greater genericity and (4) understanding of plant functioning across scales. Conclusions This approach has demonstrated considerable progress, but has yet to reach its full potential in terms of integration and heuristic knowledge production. The research agenda of functional-structural plant modellers in the coming years should place a greater emphasis on explaining robust emergent patterns, and on the causes of possible deviation from it. Modelling such patterns could indeed fuel both generic integration across scales and transdisciplinary transfer. In particular, it could be beneficial to emergent fields of research such as model-assisted phenotyping and predictive ecology in managed ecosystems.
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Submitted on : Friday, April 16, 2021 - 3:50:21 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 16, 2021 - 3:50:22 PM

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Gaëtan Louarn, Youhong Song. Two decades of functional–structural plant modelling: now addressing fundamental questions in systems biology and predictive ecology. Annals of Botany, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020, 126 (4), pp.501-509. ⟨10.1093/aob/mcaa143⟩. ⟨hal-03200493⟩

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