Institute of Mathematics for Industry


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How do plants know when to flower?

Hold Date 2016-10-11 12:00~2016-10-11 13:00

Place Lecture Room S W1-C-504, West Zone 1, Ito campus, Kyushu University

Object person  

Speaker Bob Anderssen (CSIRO)

For the survival of its species, plants must flower to make the seeds for the next generation.
Economically, for various reasons including successful food production, understanding the process genetically is fundamental. In particular, there is a need to identify, for different species of plants, what is the cue that initiates the flowering. For eucalypts, it is a wet spell after a dry period. For bamboo, the cue is not known, and the time between flowering events involves decades. For many crop plants, such as wheat, barley, oats and canola, it is the cold of winter that subsequently triggers the activation of the flowering genes which had been suppressed by the FLC gene which is activated at seed germination and fosters the initial vegetative growth.

Using the model plant, Arabidopsis, much data has been collected for which modelling is required. The importance of having quantitative models relates to having a formal basis for comparing the same species under different environmental and stress situations as well as comparing specific behaviour patterns of different species. The talk will discuss the mathematical modelling of

(i)              How a plant switches on its genetics in response to a cold event.

(ii)            How the cold of winter is epigenetically remembered so that flowering occurs when spring arrives.

(iii)           How the mathematics of linear viscoelasticity represents a foundation for modelling the response of plants to change.

The related research, on which this talk is based, is a result of collaboration with Jean Finnegan, Christopher Helliwell and Masumi Robertson of CSIRO Agriculture