Architectural analysis and synthesis of the plum tree root system in an orchard using a quantitative modelling approach

Research paper by G. Vercambre, L. Pagès, C. Doussan, R. Habib

Indexed on: 01 Apr '03Published on: 01 Apr '03Published in: Plant and soil


A dynamic 3D representation of the root system architecture of plum is proposed by gathering quantitative and morphological observations of the tree root system in a model. The model includes two information levels: (i) a typology of root axes, based on morphological and developmental characteristics; (ii) a set of basic processes (axial and radial growth, ramification and reiteration, decay). The basic processes are qualitatively identical in space and time. An original approach was used to investigate these processes and to formalize them in the model. Concerning the main roots, a mechanism of reiteration is described that has a substantial influence on the structuring of the root system. Root mortality is assessed using the variation in branching density along the root axes. Radial growth is calculated from the ramification of root axes, using root section conservation properties. This model enables a link between static field observations and a dynamic simulation of the root system architecture. The architectural model allows examination of the global consequences of the basic processes at the level of the root system. The simulations provide useful output, from a simple root depth profile to a simulation of the dynamic 3D root system architecture, to investigate plant functioning and especially water and nutrient uptake.