Molecular biologists typically restrict systems biology to cellular levels. By contrast, ecologists define biological systems as communities of interacting individuals at different trophic levels that process energy, nutrient and information flows. Modern plant breeding needs to increase agricultural productivity while decreasing the ecological footprint. This requires a holistic systems biology approach that couples different aggregation levels while considering the variables that affect these biological systems from cell to community. The challenge is to generate accurate experimental data that can be used together with modelling concepts and techniques that allow experimentally verifying in silico predictions. The coupling of aggregation levels in plant sciences, termed Integral Quantification of Biological Organization (IQBiO), might enhance our abilities to generate new desired plant phenotypes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • quantitative trait loci
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • nicotiana-attenuata
  • regulatory networks
  • natural variation
  • food webs
  • complexity
  • responses
  • model
  • metabolism


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