INDIVIDUAL team - Architecture, functioning and evolution of plants

This team studies the whole plant at the scale of individuals, including their functional biology (physiology, biomechanics, biophysics), the ecological and evolutionary consequences of their structural morphology and their ontogenetic development. This concerns either present or fossil plants (paleobotany). A central topic is plant architecture, i.e. its individual development in 3D. Our approach relies on a mathematical formalisation of the underlying biological processes through model and software developments for the analysis, modelling, simulation and prediction of the evolution of the plant structure in space and time. It applies either to natural or cultivated species. Theoretical mathematical models are used in various projects in order to study plant growth processes, acclimatization, biological invasions and plant-to-plant interactions. Our research mainly targets applications in tropical agronomy (definition of ideotypes) and ecology, rooted in partnerships with French overseas regions and Southern developing countries, thanks to CIRAD and IRD facilities.

These studies are supported by technical platforms that allow studying plant biomechanics and micro-histology, including on fossil plants. These tools along with specific protocols allow us to:

  •  conduct histological observations on thin sections of fossil plants thanks to specific equipment to cutting and polishing;
  •  characterize the biomechanical properties of plant axes (resistance, flexion, torsion, breaking and tearing) at the lab or in the field (Instron trial machine);
  •  describe wood sections from the macroscopic to the microscopic level (polishing machine with an articulated arm, magnifier and microscope with auto-incrementing stage);

Mainly based in Montpellier, the team conduct fieldwork in tropical, Mediterranean and temperate regions.