Computational models of plant development and form
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
- Grant type: Discovery Grants Program - Individual
- Years: 2010/11 to 2013/14
- Total Funding: $270,000
University of Calgary
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How organisms acquire their form is a fascinating basic research problem in developmental biology. The form of an organism is largely determined by its genetic makeup, yet molecular-level phenomena do not control form directly. Instead, they set the stage for a cascade of developmental processes, which take place at different levels of plant organization and eventually yield the final form. These emergent processes are increasingly studied using data-driven computational models, simulations, and visualizations, which complement and help interpret the results of biological experiments. In the general scope of these studies, my research is focused on:A. Model-based studies of plant development. In collaboration with experimental biologists, I am seeking common mechanisms that underlie diverse developmental processes in plants. Our work is driven be the hypothesis that several key aspects of plant development and form can be explained in terms of the pattern-generating properties of the plant hormone auxin. B. Advancement of mathematical and computational techniques for the modeling of development. In this part of my research program, my students and I devise techniques that can be incorporated into simulation software. This software can then be used to create visual simulation models that provide insights into the mechanisms of plant development in nature.I am also organizing elements of biology, mathematics, and computer science into a coherent framework, the "computational biology of plant development." This synthesis is needed as a systematic account of the results obtained to date, as a stepping stone for further research, and as a vehicle for transmitting ideas to the next generation of researchers and students.