A functional-structural kiwifruit vine model integrating architecture, carbon dynamics and effects of the environment

Mikolaj Cieslak1,2, Alla N. Seleznyova2, and Jim Hanan1
1 University of Queensland
2 New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research


Background and Aims Functional-structural modelling can be used to increase our understanding of how different aspects of plant structure and function interact, identify knowledge gaps and guide priorities for future experimentation. By integrating existing knowledge of the different aspects of the kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) vine's architecture and physiology, our aim is to develop conceptual and mathematical hypotheses on several of the vine's features: (a) plasticity of the vine's architecture; (b) effects of organ position within the canopy on its size; (c) effects of environment and horticultural management on shoot growth, light distribution and organ size; and (d) role of carbon reserves in early shoot growth.

Methods Using the L-system modelling platform, a functional-structural plant model of a kiwifruit vine was created that integrates architectural development, mechanistic modelling of carbon transport and allocation, and environmental and management effects on vine and fruit growth. The branching pattern was captured at the individual shoot level by modelling axillary shoot development using a discrete-time Markov chain. An existing carbon transport resistance model was extended to account for several source/sink components of individual plant elements. A quasi-Monte Carlo path-tracing algorithm was used to estimate the absorbed irradiance of each leaf.

Key Results Several simulations were performed to illustrate the model's potential to reproduce the major features of the vine's behaviour. The model simulated vine growth responses that were qualitatively similar to those observed in experiments, including the plastic response of shoot growth to local carbon supply, the branching patterns of two Actinidia species, the effect of carbon limitation and topological distance on fruit size and the complex behaviour of sink competition for carbon.

Conclusions The model is able to reproduce differences in vine and fruit growth arising from various experimental treatments. This implies it will be a valuable tool for refining our understanding of kiwifruit growth and for identifying strategies to improve production.


Mikolaj Cieslak, Alla N. Seleznyova, and Jim Hanan. A functional-structural kiwifruit vine model integrating architecture, carbon dynamics and effects of the environment. Annals of Botany 107(5), pp. 747-764, 2011.

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You can also download the L-system kiwifruit vine model described in the paper (TGZ archive, 36 kb; you will need L-studio or VLAB to run the model.)