Simple models for complex questions on plant development

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU



This thesis combines several modelling studies on plant growth and development. The core interest is the nitrogen fixing legume-rhizobium symbiosis, specifically how different signals interact in specifying the location of the nodule primordium.

For one of them, the hormone cytokinin, little is known about its movement through the tissue. All sufficiently small molecules, however, can move by non-targeted symplastic transport. We therefore start with a study of the biophysical properties of this often overlooked mechanism.

The study of the nodule primordium proper starts with an investigation of different mechanisms for local auxin accumulation, because this hormone structurally accumulates at the site of the first cell divisions. Both studies are then combined to investigate how an epidermal cytokinin signal can induce auxin accumulation in the right -- species dependent -- cortical position.

Plant growth and development also has strong mechanical components: the differential expansion of cell walls due to their anisotropic structure and the orientation of cell division planes. Both are controlled by the interphase cortical microtubule array. We investigate the effects of several experimental observations on array organisation and their resulting developmental impact.

We conclude with a critical review of different ways of using models to address biological questions.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Mulder, Bela, Promotor
  • Bisseling, Ton, Promotor
Award date1 Jul 2013
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789461736314
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • plant development
  • growth
  • models
  • plant physiology
  • plant cell biology

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