Multiscale integration of environmental stimuli in plant tropism produces complex behaviors


Moulton, D
Oliveri, H
Goriely, A

Publication Date: 

31 July 2020


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA

Last Updated: 





Plant tropism refers to the directed movement of an organ or organism in response to external stimuli. Typically, these stimuli induce hormone transport that triggers cell growth or deformation. In turn, these local cellular changes create mechanical forces on the plant tissue that are balanced by an overall deformation of the organ, hence changing its orientation with respect to the stimuli. This complex feedback mechanism takes place in a three-dimensional growing plant with varying stimuli depending on the environment. We model this multiscale process in filamentary organs for an arbitrary stimulus by linking explicitly hormone transport to local tissue deformation leading to the generation of mechanical forces and the deformation of the organ in three dimensions. We show, as examples, that the gravitropic, phototropic, nutational, and thigmotropic dynamic responses can be easily captured by this framework. Further, the integration of evolving stimuli and/or multiple contradictory stimuli can lead to complex behavior such as sun following, canopy escape, and plant twining.

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Submitted to ORA: 

Not Submitted

Publication Type: 

Journal Article