Theme AFON - Functional Architecture


The functional-structural plant modeling approach (FSPM) that combines plant architecture and functional processes opens up challenging prospects for investigating how plants adapt to varying environments and how to guide breeding and agronomic practices to increase yields (

Scientific objectives

The overall goal is to develop FSPM skills to optimize agronomic, forest or agro-forest systems. Targeted plants are tropical crops of major economic interest (e.g. rice, sorghum, coffee, oil palm and eucalyptus). Modeling forest trees is currently at the exploratory and experimental stage.


The FSPM approach combines botanical development rules (architecture) with physical and biological processes (e.g. photosynthesis, transpiration and biomechanics). This combination includes 3D reconstruction of plants notably to simulate the capture of light by photosynthetic structures within a plant community.
Modeling the carbon balance is critical in the simulation of plant growth, at least in cultivated plants selected for higher productivity. However carbon sinks may also be a limiting factor (Franck et al 2006). The basic assumption of a unique pool of assimilates is reasonable for small plants but is no longer relevant for large trees for which we must assume that branches are more or less autonomous for their carbon supply.

Expected results

  •  A generic functional-structural modeling framework;
  •  Dedicated models for applications to oil palm and coffee trees;
  •  Biomechanical investigations of cereal lodging or wind breakage;
  •  Acclimation to global changes (coffee acclimation to an increase in CO2);
  •  Evaluation of architectural and functional traits of interest for plant breeding (e.g. oil palm);
  •  Evaluation of agronomic practices such as planting pattern or pruning (e.g. oil palm, agroforestry systems);
  •  A better understanding of the strategy of trees to develop in forest stands conditions.

Private collaborators

Scientific projects

Acronym Title Duration
PALMSTUDIOModelling performances of oil palm plantation by the identification of architectural and functional traits2017 - 2020
AVSTUDIOModélisation et asservissement d'un système agrivoltaïque à panneaux mobiles2014 - 2016
STEM-LEAFSTudies based on Experimental and Modelled wavefor for the LEAF (Lidar for Earth And Forests) mission2013 - 2016

Major publications

All major publications 2019
  • Yang M, Défossez P, Danjon F, Fourcaud T., 2014. Tree stability under wind: simulating uprooting with root breakage using a finite element method. Annals of Botany 114: 695-709. [Editor link]
  • Taugourdeau O, Dauzat J, Griffon S, Sabatier SA, Caraglio Y, Barthélémy D., 2012. Retrospective analysis of tree architecture in silver fir (Abies alba Mill.): ontogenetic trends and responses to environmental variability. Annals of Forest Science, 69 (6): 713-721. [Editor link]
  • Franck N, Vaast P, Génard M, Dauzat J., 2006. Soluble sugars mediate sink feedback down-regulation of leaf photosynthesis in field-grown Coffea Arabica. Tree physiology, 26 (4): 517-525. [Editor link]
  • Génard M, Dauzat J, Franck N, Lescourret F, Moitrier N, Vaast P, Vercambre G., 2008. Carbon allocation in fruit trees: From theory to modelling. Trees Structure and Function, 22 (3): 269-282. [Editor link]
  • Parveaud CE, Chopard J, Dauzat J, Courbaud B, Auclair D., 2008. Modelling foliage characteristics in 3D tree crowns: Influence on light interception and leaf irradiance. Trees - Structure and Function, 22 (1) : 87-104. [Editor link]

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