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Trends Plant Sci. 2003 Jan;8(1):9-14.

Virtual plants: modelling as a tool for the genomics of tolerance to water deficit.

Author information

  • INRA-ENSAM Laboratoire d'Ecophysiologie des Plantes sous Stress Environnementaux, Montpellier, France. tardieu@ensam.inra.fr


Modelling can simulate the responses of virtual plants carrying diverse combinations of alleles under different scenarios of abiotic stress. The main difficulty is mathematically expressing the genetic variability of responses to environmental conditions. Modelling via gene regulatory networks is not feasible for such complex systems, but plants can be modelled using response curves to environmental conditions that are 'meta mechanisms' at plant level. Each genotype is represented by a set of response parameters that are valid under a wide range of conditions. Transgenesis of one function experimentally affected one response parameter only. Transgenic plants or plants carrying any combination of quantitative trait loci might therefore be simulated and tested under different climatic scenarios, before genetic manipulations are performed.

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