Towards developmental modelling of tree root systems

B. Tobin*, J. Čermák, D. Chiatante, F. Danjon, A. Di Iorio, L. Dupuy, A. Eshel, C. Jourdan, T. Kalliokoski, R. Laiho, N. Nadezhdina, B. Nicoll, L. Pagès, J. Silva, I. Spanos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Knowledge of belowground structures and processes is essential for understanding and predicting ecosystem functioning, and consequently in the development of adaptive strategies to safeguard production from trees and woody plants into the future. In the past, research has mainly been concentrated on growth models for the prediction of agronomic or forest production. Newly emerging scientific challenges, e.g. climate change and sustainable development, call for new integrated predictive methods where root systems development will become a key element for understanding global biological systems. The types of input data available from the various branches of woody root research, including biomass allocation, architecture, biomechanics, water and nutrient supply, are discussed with a view to the possibility of incorporating them into a more generic developmental model. We discuss here the main focus of root system modelling to date, including a description of simple allometric biomass models, and biomechanical stress models, and then build in complexity through static growth models towards architecture models. The next progressive and logical step in developing an inclusive developmental model that integrates these modelling approaches is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-501
Number of pages21
JournalPlant Biosystems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Architecture
  • Biomass
  • Biomechanical
  • Developmental modeling
  • Woody root systems


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