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Crops in silico: A community wide multi-scale computational modeling framework of plant canopies


Current crop models predict a looming gap between supply and demand for primary foodstuffs over the next 100 years. While significant yield increases were achieved in major food crops during the early years of the green revolution, the current rates of yield increases are insufficient to meet future projected food demand. Furthermore, with projected reduction in arable land, decrease in water availability, and increasing impacts of climate change on future food production, innovative technologies are required to sustainably improve crop yield. To meet these challenges, we are developing Crops in silico (Cis), a biologically informed, multi-scale, computational modeling framework that can facilitate whole plant simulations of crop systems. The Cis framework is capable of linking models of gene networks, protein synthesis, metabolic pathways, physiology, growth, and development in order to investigate crop response to different climate scenarios and resource constraints. This modeling framework will provide the mechanistic details to generate testable hypotheses toward accelerating directed breeding and engineering efforts to increase future food security. A primary objective for building such a framework is to create synergy among an inter-connected community of biologists and modelers to create a realistic virtual plant. This framework advantageously casts the detailed mechanistic understanding of individual plant processes across various scales in a common scalable framework that makes use of current advances in high performance and parallel computing. We are currently designing a user friendly interface that will make this tool equally accessible to biologists and computer scientists. Critically, this framework will provide the community with much needed tools for guiding future crop breeding and engineering, understanding the emergent implications of discoveries at the molecular level for whole plant behavior, and improved prediction of plant and ecosystem responses to the environment.
Venkatraman Srinivasan, Andrew Christensen, Kalina Borkiewic, Xu Yiwen, Apollo Ellis, Balaji Panneerselvam, Kavya Kannan, Stuti Shrivastava, Donna Cox, John Hart, Amy Marshall-Colon, and Stephen Long, Crops in silico: A community wide multi-scale computational modeling framework of plant canopies. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Friday, 16 December 2016. San Francisco, CA.

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