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Investigation of complex canopies with a functional¿structural plant model as exemplified by leaf inclination effect on the functioning of pure and mixed stands of wheat during grain filling

Barillot R., Chambon C., Fournier C., Combes D., Pradal C., Andrieu B.. 2019. Annals of Botany, 123 (4) : p. 727-742.

Background and Aims Because functional¿structural plant models (FSPMs) take plant architecture explicitly into consideration, they constitute a promising approach for unravelling plant¿plant interactions in complex canopies. However, existing FSPMs mainly address competition for light. The aim of the present work was to develop a comprehensive FSPM accounting for the interactions between plant architecture, environmental factors and the metabolism of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). ¿ Methods We developed an original FSPM by coupling models of (1) 3-D wheat architecture, (2) light distribution within canopies and (3) C and N metabolism. Model behaviour was evaluated by simulating the functioning of theoretical canopies consisting of wheat plants of contrasting leaf inclination, arranged in pure and mixed stands and considering four culm densities and three sky conditions. ¿ Key Results As an emergent property of the detailed description of metabolism, the model predicted a linear relationship between absorbed light and C assimilation, and a curvilinear relationship between grain mass and C assimilation, applying to both pure stands and each component of mixtures. Over the whole post-anthesis period, planophile plants tended to absorb more light than erectophile plants, resulting in a slightly higher grain mass. This difference was enhanced at low plant density and in mixtures, where the erectophile behaviour resulted in a loss of competitiveness. ¿ Conclusion The present work demonstrates that FSPMs provide a framework allowing the analysis of complex canopies such as studying the impact of particular plant traits, which would hardly be feasible experimentally. The present FSPM can help in interpreting complex interactions by providing access to critical variables such as resource acquisition and allocation, internal metabolic concentrations, leaf life span and grain filling. Simulations were based on canopies identically initialized at flowering; extending the model to the whole cycle is thus required so that all consequences of a trait can be evaluated.

Mots-clés : france

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

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