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Modelling transport of inhibiting and activating signals and their combined effects on floral induction: Application to apple tree

Belhassine F., Fumey D., Chopard J., Pradal C., Martinez S., Costes E., Pallas B.. 2020. Scientific Reports, 10 : 14 p..

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-69861-8

Floral induction (FI) in shoot apical meristems (SAM) is assumed to be triggered by antagonistic endogenous signals. In fruit trees, FI occurs in some SAM only and is determined by activating and inhibiting signals originating from leaves and fruit, respectively. We developed a model (SigFlow) to quantify on 3D structures the combined impact of such signals and distances at which they act on SAM. Signal transport was simulated considering a signal 'attenuation' parameter, whereas SAM fate was determined by probability functions depending on signal quantities. Model behaviour was assessed on simple structures before being calibrated and validated on a unique experimental dataset of 3D digitized apple trees with contrasted crop loads and subjected to leaf and fruit removal at different scales of tree organization. Model parameter estimations and comparisons of two signal combination functions led us to formulate new assumptions on the mechanisms involved: (i) the activating signal could be transported at shorter distances than the inhibiting one (roughly 50 cm vs 1 m) (ii) both signals jointly act to determine FI with SAM being more sensitive to inhibiting signal than activating one. Finally, the genericity of the model is promising to further understand the physiological and architectural determinisms of FI in plants.

Mots-clés : malus; modèle mathématique; floraison; signal; modèle végétal

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