Phloem pp 371-386 | Cite as

A Mechanistic Model to Predict Distribution of Carbon Among Multiple Sinks

  • André LacointeEmail author
  • Peter E. H. Minchin
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2014)


Modeling is a fundamental part of quantitative science used to bring together several quantitative components, often developed though detailed reductionist approach on component parts, e.g., sucrose transport through a membrane osmotic relation. It is now generally accepted that phloem transport is the result of bulk solution flow generated by the difference in osmotic pressure between source and sink tissues. However, there is still little agreement on how different sink tissues compete for available carbohydrate. Furthermore, the impact of phloem pathway leakage (unloading) and reloading on source-to-sink carbon transport remains unclear. Moreover, it is debated to what degree the interactions between phloem and xylem flows influence carbohydrate source-sink relations. These aspects are extremely difficult to research by a reductionist approach, with modeling being an important tool to examine the consequences of proposed mechanisms, which can then be tested on whole plants.

Phloem/xylem modeling has been at the limits of quantitative modeling, especially when dynamic models are needed to explain tracer studies. Advances in computing now enable more realistic modeling, which are utilized by the PiafMunch approach described here. This model enables a high level of mechanistic detail to be incorporated and the observable effect of it to be tested. In the most recent version of the software with the introduction of tracer dynamics, it can now predict the effects of specific phloem mechanisms upon the shape of evolving tracer profiles.

Key words

Münch model Carbon allocation Carbon partitioning Sink priority Phloem Xylem Plant architecture Functional-structural plant modeling Source-sink relations 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Clermont AuvergneINRA, PIAFClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food ResearchMotueka Research CentreMotuekaNew Zealand

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