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MARSHAL, a novel tool for modeling root system hydraulics

Root systems (RS) are excellent candidates for contributing to the development of novel drought tolerant cultivars because of their key role in water uptake and their phenotypic plasticity. Functional-structural root system models (FSRSM) are able to numerically simulate water movement from the root to the shoot. The resulting in silico multi-environment trials allow one to estimate water stress felt by crops in any environment.

In a new paper published in in silico Plants, Dr. Félicien Meunier of Université catholique de Louvain and colleagues present MAize Root System Hydraulic Architecture soLver (MARSHAL). This an efficient and user-friendly computational tool couples a root architecture model (CRootBox) with fast and accurate algorithms of water flow through hydraulic architectures and plant-scale parameter calculations.

“Our previous work showed that accurate water flow equations in a root system hydraulic architecture provided better accuracy than existing methods. Implementing this into an existing FSRSM bridged the gap between root local traits and plant upscaled hydraulic and architectural parameters” said Meunier.

To illustrate the tool’s potential, the authors generated contrasted maize hydraulic architectures that they compared with root system architectural and hydraulic observations. Observed variability of these traits was well captured by model ensemble runs.

MARSHAL code is released under an Open-Source license and is available as:

All relevant information can be found on the MARSHAL website:

Written by Rachel Shekar

Rachel has served as lead manager of both Global Change Biology and GCB Bioenergy for over ten years and has been instrumental in the success of both journals. Rachel has overseen the development of GCBB as a fully open access online journal and the social media that has been a major part of promotion of both journals. Rachel has also served as coordinator of the Crops in silico project and organization.

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