Journal article

Self-Organization of plant vascular systems: claims and counter-claims about the flux-based auxin transport model

  • Feller, Chrystel Department of Mathematics and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Farcot, Etienne School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham, UK
  • Mazza, Christian Department of Mathematics and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Published in:
  • PLoS ONE. - 2015, vol. 10, no. 3, p. e0118238
English The plant hormone auxin plays a central role in growth and morphogenesis. In shoot apical meristems, auxin flux is polarized through its interplay with PIN proteins. Concentration-based mathematical models of the flux can explain some aspects of phyllotaxis for the L1 surface layer, where auxin accumulation points act as sinks and develop into primordia. The picture differs in the interior of the meristem, where the primordia act as auxin sources, leading to the initiation of the vascular system. Self-organization of the auxin flux involves large numbers of molecules and is difficult to treat by intuitive reasoning alone; mathematical models are therefore vital to understand these phenomena. We consider a leading computational model based on the so-called flux hypothesis. This model has been criticized and extended in various ways. One of the basic counter-arguments is that simulations yield auxin concentrations inside canals that are lower than those seen experimentally. Contrary to what is claimed in the literature, we show that the model can lead to higher concentrations within canals for significant parameter regimes. We then study the model in the usual case where the response function Φ defining the model is quadratic and unbounded, and show that the steady state vascular patterns are formed of loopless directed trees. Moreover, we show that PIN concentrations can diverge in finite time, thus explaining why previous simulation studies introduced cut-offs which force the system to have bounded PIN concentrations. Hence, contrary to previous claims, extreme PIN concentrations are not due to numerical problems but are intrinsic to the model. On the other hand, we show that PIN concentrations remain bounded for bounded Φ, and simulations show that in this case, loops can emerge at steady state.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Mathématiques
  • English
Biological sciences
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