Morphological plant modeling: Unleashing geometric and topological potential within the plant sciences
Akomian Fortuné Azihou,
Brad M. Binder,
Siobhan A. Braybrook,
Thomas J. DeWitt,
Alexander George Fletcher,
Malia A. Gehan,
Diego Hernan Diaz Martinez,
Anjali S Iyer-Pascuzzi,
Laura L. Klein,
Julin N. Maloof,
RJ Cody Markelz,
Ciera C. Martinez,
Laura A. Miller,
Charles A. Price,
Edgar P. Spalding,
Erin E Sparks,
Christopher N Topp,
Daniel H Chitwood
Posted 04 Oct 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/078832 (published DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00900)
Posted 04 Oct 2016
Plant morphology is inherently mathematical in that morphology describes plant form and architecture with geometrical and topological descriptors. The geometries and topologies of leaves, flowers, roots, shoots and their spatial arrangements have fascinated plant biologists and mathematicians alike. Beyond providing aesthetic inspiration, quantifying plant morphology has become pressing in an era of climate change and a growing human population. Modifying plant morphology, through molecular biology and breeding, aided by a mathematical perspective, is critical to improving agriculture, and the monitoring of ecosystems with fewer natural resources. In this white paper, we begin with an overview of the mathematical models applied to quantify patterning in plants. We then explore fundamental challenges that remain unanswered concerning plant morphology, from the barriers preventing the prediction of phenotype from genotype to modeling the movement of leafs in air streams. We end with a discussion concerning the incorporation of plant morphology into educational programs. This strategy focuses on synthesizing biological and mathematical approaches and ways to facilitate research advances through outreach, cross-disciplinary training, and open science. This white paper arose from bringing mathematicians and biologists together at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) workshop titled Morphological Plant Modeling: Unleashing Geometric and Topological Potential within the Plant Sciences held at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in September, 2015. Never has the need to quantify plant morphology been more imperative. Unleashing the potential of geometric and topological approaches in the plant sciences promises to transform our understanding of both plants and mathematics.
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