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Modelling tiller growth and mortality as a sink-driven process using Ecomeristem: Implications for biomass sorghum ideotyping

  • Larue, Florian
  • Fumey, Damien
  • Rouan, Lauriane
  • Soulie, Jean-Christophe
  • Roques, Sandrine
  • Beurier, Grégory
  • Luquet, Delphine
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
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Background and Aims: Plant modelling can efficiently support ideotype conception, particularly in multi-criteria selection contexts. This is the case for biomass sorghum, implying the need to consider traits related to biomass production and quality. This study evaluated three modelling approaches for their ability to predict tiller growth, mortality and their impact, together with other morphological and physiological traits, on biomass sorghum ideotype prediction. Methods: Three Ecomeristem model versions were compared to evaluate whether tillering cessation and mortality were source (access to light) or sink (age-based hierarchical access to C supply) driven. They were tested using a field data set considering two biomass sorghum genotypes at two planting densities. An additional data set comparing eight genotypes was used to validate the best approach for its ability to predict the genotypic and environmental control of biomass production. A sensitivity analysis was performed to explore the impact of key genotypic parameters and define optimal parameter combinations depending on planting density and targeted production (sugar and fibre). Key Results: The sink-driven control of tillering cessation and mortality was the most accurate, and represented the phenotypic variability of studied sorghum genotypes in terms of biomass production and partitioning between structural and non-structural carbohydrates. Model sensitivity analysis revealed that light conversion efficiency and stem diameter are key traits to target for improving sorghum biomass within existing genetic diversity. Tillering contribution to biomass production appeared highly genotype and environment dependent, making it a challenging trait for designing ideotypes. Conclusions: By modelling tiller growth and mortality as sink-driven processes, Ecomeristem could predict and explore the genotypic and environmental variability of biomass sorghum production. Its application to larger sorghum genetic diversity considering water deficit regulations and its coupling to a genetic model will make it a powerful tool to assist ideotyping for current and future climatic scenario.

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