EPI modelling

A lot is known about how plants, animals and human decisions interact within the arable environment. There is increasing evidence however that what happens globally results from the interplay between these processes. Through modelling we aim to combine existing knowledge to make predictions of the system as a whole. The knowledge, methods and tools that we develop provide fundamental support to sustainable agricultural production systems.

Modelling of processes in arable systems

Image showing a model of the root meristematic waveWe use mathematical and statistical modelling to understand the functioning of arable vegetation and organisms, its responses to agricultural innovations and global change, and its role in the sustainability of the arable system as a whole. Key areas of this research include the following.

  • Understanding the environmental dynamics of key life cycle genes and transgenes, predict their persistence and spread and to explore the determinants of adventitious presence.
  • Exploring the influence of plant community characteristics, including genetic and phenotypic diversity, on the emergent properties of ecosystems.
  • The relationship between weed density and crop yields in arable systems.
  • Modelling biodiversity through an Individual Based Modelling approach.
  • Modelling the genetic regulation of plant architectural development in response to environmental signals. 

Structure, composition and pattern characterisation of arable environment

Image showing 3D visualization of maritime pine root architecture with the Archiroot software (data by Fred Danjon)Structures and compositions within organisms and ecosystems are central to explain their behaviour and regulation. We are developing the following methods for the analysis of biological patterns and their role in the functioning of organisms and ecosystems.

  • Developing and applying statistical models to describe plant communities in terms of the functional attributes of individuals.
  • Developing sampling and assay methods for the quantification of transgenes in the environment.
  • Designing of methods for the analysis of plant architectures and their development.
  • Functional grouping in arable weeds.
  • Designing new approaches to study the dynamics of the soil exploration by roots.

Tools and technologies for quantitative analysis

Imaging root movement using Optical Projection TomographyObtaining quantitative information from observation and experiment is crutial to obtain an objective knowledge of biological processes. We are developing tools and technologies for measuring biological processes by the following.

  • Developing novel quantitative tools for the analysis of plant structures and their development.
  • Developing simulation tools for projecting scenarios.
  • Design experimental setup that allow for fast and extensive characterisation of systems.