Background and Aims
There is increasing interest in the development of plant growth models representing the complex system of interactions between the different determinants of plant development. These approaches are particularly relevant for grapevine organogenesis, which is a highly plastic process dependent on temperature, solar radiation, soil water deficit and trophic competition.
The extent to which three plant growth models were able to deal with the observed plasticity of axis organogenesis was assessed. In the first model, axis organogenesis was dependent solely on temperature, through thermal time. In the second model, axis organogenesis was modelled through functional relationships linking meristem activity and trophic competition. In the last model, the rate of phytomer appearence on each axis was modelled as a function of both the trophic status of the plant and the direct effect of soil water content on potential meristem activity.
The model including relationships between trophic competition and meristem behaviour involved a decrease in the root mean squared error (RMSE) for the simulations of organogenesis by a factor nine compared with the thermal time-based model. Compared with the model in which axis organogenesis was driven only by trophic competition, the implementation of relationships between water deficit and meristem behaviour improved organogenesis simulation results, resulting in a three times divided RMSE. The resulting model can be seen as a first attempt to build a comprehensive complete plant growth model simulating the development of the whole plant in fluctuating conditions of temperature, solar radiation and soil water content.
We propose a new hypothesis concerning the effects of the different determinants of axis organogenesis. The rate of phytomer appearance according to thermal time was strongly affected by the plant trophic status and soil water deficit. Futhermore, the decrease in meristem activity when soil water is depleted does not result from source/sink imbalances.