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OpenSimRoot: Widening the scope and application of root architectural models

Authors: 

Postma, J.A., Kuppe, C., Owen, M.R., Mellor, N., Griffiths, M., Bennett, M.J., Lynch J.P., Watt, M.

Source: 

New Phytologist, 2017

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Abstract:

Research Conducted and Rationale: OpenSimRoot is an open sourced, functional structural plant model and mathematical description of root growth and function. We describe OpenSimRoot and its functionality to broaden the benefits of root modeling to the plant science community.

Description: OpenSimRoot is an extended version of SimRoot, established to simulate root system architecture, nutrient acquisition, and plant growth. OpenSimRoot has a plugin, modular infrastructure, coupling single plant and crop stands to soil nutrient, and water transport models. It estimates the value of root traits for water and nutrient acquisition in environments and plant species.

Key results and unique features: The flexible OpenSimRoot design allows upscaling from root anatomy to plant community to estimate 1) resource costs of developmental and anatomical traits, 2) trait synergisms, 3) (inter species) root competition. OpenSimRoot can model 3D images from MRI and X-ray CT of roots in soil. New modules include: 1) soil water dependent water uptake and xylem flow, 2) tiller formation, 3) evapotranspiration, 4) simultaneous simulation of mobile solutes, 5) mesh refinement, and 6) root growth plasticity.

Conclusion: OpenSimRoot integrates plant phenotypic data with environmental metadata to support experimental designs and gain mechanistic understanding at system scales.