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Internal trophic pressure, a regulator of plant development? Insights from a stochastic functional-structural plant growth model applied to Coffea trees

Letort V., Sabatier S.A., Okoma M.P., Jaeger M., De Reffye P.. 2020. Annals of Botany, 126 (4) : p. 687-699.

DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcaa023

Background and Aims: Using internal trophic pressure as a regulating variable to model the complex interaction loops between organogenesis, production of assimilates and partitioning in functional¿structural models of plant growth has attracted increasing interest in recent years. However, this approach is hampered by the fact that internal trophic pressure is a non-measurable quantity that can be assessed only through model parametric estimation, for which the methodology is not straightforward, especially when the model is stochastic. Methods: A stochastic GreenLab model of plant growth (called 'GL4') is developed with a feedback effect of internal trophic competition, represented by the ratio of biomass supply to demand (Q/D), on organogenesis. A methodology for its parameter estimation is presented and applied to a dataset of 15 two-year-old Coffea canephora trees. Based on the fitting results, variations in Q/D are reconstructed and analysed in relation to the estimated variations in organogenesis parameters. Key Results: Our stochastic retroactive model was able to simulate realistically the progressive set-up of young plant architecture and the branch pruning effect. Parameter estimation using real data for Coffea trees provided access to the internal trophic dynamics. These dynamics correlated with the organogenesis probabilities during the establishment phase. Conclusions: The model can satisfactorily reproduce the measured data, thus opening up promising avenues for further applying this original procedure to other experimental data. The framework developed can serve as a model-based toolkit to reconstruct the hidden internal trophic dynamics of plant growth.

Mots-clés : coffea; niveau trophique; stade de développement végétal; modèle stochastique; modélisation des cultures; réponse de la plante; analyse fonctionnelle; croissance des plantes; modélisation mathématique; pression trophique

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