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A new whole-plant framework simulates realistic water and carbon flow

Experimental measurements of carbon and water flow in plants can be challenging, as most available measuring methods are time-consuming and destructive, preventing the continuous observation of these flow as the plant develops. Consequently, Functional-Structural Plant Models are used to efficiently represent plant-environment interplay in silico.

A new paper published in in silico Plants presents CPlantBox, a whole plant modelling framework based on the root system model CRootBox. CPlantbox is capable of simulating the growth and development of a variety of plant architectures (root and shoot).

According to Xiao-Ran Zhou, PhD student at Forschungszentrum Jülich, “few Functional-Structural Plant Models with both 3D topology and 3D geometry exist, and only two existing models were designed to simulate carbon and water flow simultaneously. Ours is the first to combine both.”

Diagram of the model in progress

CPlantBox provides a framework to couple with external modeling tools. The authors coupled the models CPlantBox with the carbon and water flow model PiafMunch to reverse-estimate hidden experimental parameters. By using measured carbon flow, phloem resistance and pressure, they were able to give consistent estimates of carbon loading and unloading rate in the phloem, in the different plant organs.

“The ability to simulate carbon and water flow in complex plant networks will help us integrate local knowledge into a plant scale framework,” says co-author Dr. Guillaume Lobet, Assistant Professor at Forschungszentrum Jülich and the UCLouvain.

CPlantBox code is released under an Open-Source license and is available online:

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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