Plant architecture, the three-dimensional organisation of the plant in space, can be regarded as a concept central to plant growth and development. The architecture of a plant is the combined result of the genetic makeup of the plant, its physiological processes and environmental drivers such as light, water and nutrients, as well as competition for those resources with other plants. There is an important feedback loop between plant architecture and its determinants. Plant architecture determines, for instance, to what extent light can be intercepted and assimilates or hormones transported, as well as informing the extent to which water and nutrients can be taken up from the soil by the roots, and the process by which above- and below-ground signals can be perceived and sent. Thus, in order for us to better understand how plants with a specific genetic basis grow and develop in spatially and temporally heterogeneous environmental conditions, it is essential to take plant architecture into account.
This is where functional-structural plant (FSP) modelling comes into play. FSP models explicitly capture growth and development of plants driven by the feedback with physiological mechanisms and environmental conditions. FSP models are used to integrate knowledge from experiments to make sense of the results, to perform explorations and thereby to guide the design of new experiments, and to test hypotheses on plant functioning in wild and agricultural settings. Over the years, FSP models have matured to be regarded as robust scientific tools to address questions in plant science and ecology. Nevertheless, much research is also still going into the design of such models itself and the associated methodological questions.
The International Conference on Functional-Structural Plant Growth Modeling, Simulation, Visualization and Applications (FSPMA 2016), to be held in Qingdao, China, 7-11 Nov 2016, explicitly focuses on both these aspects: cutting edge plant science research in which FSP models are utilized to address questions related to plant growth, development, competition, and evolution, as well as computer science research focused on capturing the complexity of mechanisms driving processes at the cell, organ, plant, field and community levels.
Annals of Botany will release a Special Issue on Functional-Structural Plant Growth Modelling in 2018 following the FSPMA 2016 conference. Guest editors will be Mengzhen Kang, Veronique Letort, Michael Renton and Jochem Evers. This is also an open call for submission of additional papers related to FSP modelling, which can also be considered for inclusion in the Special Issue, following the usual peer-review process. All types of papers (primary research articles, reviews, viewpoints, research-in-context) are welcomed. If you have a manuscript that you would like to be considered for inclusion in the Special Issue on Functional-Structural Plant Growth Modelling, please send an outline (title, authors and 250–500 words) of your article to firstname.lastname@example.org. All Special Issue submissions must be received via AoB’s submission portal http://aob.msubmit.net/ before 30 April 2017 in order to be considered for inclusion in the Special Issue.
The 2018 Special Issue of Annals of Botany on Functional-Structural Plant Growth Modelling will build on previous issues in the area;
Developmental Robustness and Species Diversity (Vol. 117, No 5, April 2016)
Functional–Structural Plant Modelling (Vol. 114, No 4, September 2014)
Plant Growth and Architectural Modelling and its Applications (Vol 107, No 5, April 2011)
Functional–Structural Plant Modelling (Vol 108, No 6, October 2011)