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Does the structure-function Model GREENLAB deal with crop phenotypic plasticity induced by plant spacing? : A case study on tomato

Qiaoxue Dong, Louarn G., Yiming Wang, Barczi J.F., De Reffye P.. 2008. Annals of Botany, 101 (8) : p. 1195-1206.

Background and Aims: Plant growth models able to simulate phenotypic plasticity are increasingly required because (1) they should enable better predictions of the observed variations in crop production, yield and quality, and (2) their parameters are expected to have a more robust genetic basis, with possible implications for selection of quantitative traits such as growth- and allocation-related processes. The structure-function plant model, GREENLAB, simulates resource-dependent plasticity of plant architecture. Evidence for its generality has been previously reported, but always for plants grown in a limited range of environments. This paper aims to test the model concept to its limits by using plant spacing as a means to generate a gradient of competition for light, and by using a new crop species, tomato, known to exhibit a strong photomorphogenetic response. Methods: A greenhouse experiment was carried out with three homogeneous planting densities (plant spacing = 0·3, 0·6 and 1 m). Detailed records of plant development, plant architecture and organ growth were made throughout the growing period. Model calibration was performed for each situation using a statistical optimization procedure (multi-fitting). Key Results and Conclusions: Obvious limitations of the present version of the model appeared to account fully for the plant plasticity induced by inter-plant competition for light. A lack of stability was identified for some model parameters at very high planting density. In particular, those parameters characterizing organ sink strengths and governing light interception proved to be environment-dependent. Remarkably, however, responses of the parameter values concerned were consistent with actual growth measurements and with previously reported results. Furthermore, modifications of total biomass production and of allocation patterns induced by the planting-density treatments were accurately simulated using the sets of optimized parameters. These results demonstrate that the overall model structure is potentially able to reproduce the observed plant plasticity and suggest that sound biologically based adaptations could overcome the present model limitations. Potential options for model improvement are proposed, and the possibility of using the kernel algorithm currently available as a fitting tool to build up more sophisticated model versions is advocated.

Mots-clés : solanum lycopersicum; Étude de cas; phénotype; adaptabilité; anatomie végétale; croissance; compétition végétale; espacement; modèle mathématique; modèle de simulation; sink effect

Thématique : Méthodes mathématiques et statistiques; Physiologie végétale : croissance et développement; Anatomie et morphologie des plantes

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