Research Topic

Virtual plants: Modeling plant architecture in changing environments

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Plant architecture is a major determinant of the resource use efficiency of crops. The architecture of a plant shows ontogenetic structural changes which are modified by multiple environmental factors: Plant canopies are exposed to natural fluctuations in light quantity and the dynamically changing canopy ...

Plant architecture is a major determinant of the resource use efficiency of crops. The architecture of a plant shows ontogenetic structural changes which are modified by multiple environmental factors: Plant canopies are exposed to natural fluctuations in light quantity and the dynamically changing canopy architecture induces local variations in light quality. Changing temperature conditions or water availability during growth additionally affect plant architecture and thus crop productivity, because plants have various options to adapt their architecture to the available resources. Meeting the challenge of ensuring food security we must understand the plant’s mechanisms for integrating and responding to an orchestra of environmental factors.
‘Virtual plants’ describe plant architecture in silico. Virtual plants have the potential to help us understanding the complex feedback processes between canopy architecture, multiple environmental factors and crop productivity. As a research tool, they have become increasingly popular within the last decade due to their great power of realistically visualizing the plant’s architecture.
This Research Topic is expected to highlight the current research carried out on modeling plant architecture in changing environments. Contributions will cover all aspects of modeling plant architecture in response to environmental factors, e.g. model concepts for predicting organ size and orientation; approaches on plant plasticity, the integration of signaling systems and the interplay of timing, sensitivity and site of signal perception; and the up-scaling on whole canopy level. We warmly welcome original research papers. Reviews of specific topics, articles on opinions, perspectives or innovative methodological approaches on architectural modeling are also gladly accepted.


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