Academic Lead – Ottoline Leyser (York)

Plant shoot systems can be considered as modular structures with the shoot apical meristem at the tip producing sequential modules, termed phytomers, consisting of a stem segment, a leaf, and an axillary meristem, which has the same developmental potential as the primary shoot apical meristem. The overall architecture of the shoot is determined by the number of modules produced, and by quantitative and qualitative variation in the module parts, for example stem length, leaf shape, and axillary meristem activity or identity. Increasing understanding of phytomer development has driven a requirement for mathematical modelling to understand the actions and interactions of the many signalling components involved.

This network encompasses plant developmental biologists with diverse skills and mathematical modellers. We will combine our understanding of different aspects of phytomer biology, complementary skills for phytomer analysis, and diverse tools for mathematical modelling to build a better understanding of shoot development.

A longer term aim of the network will be to work toward a fully integrated model, in which models of different types can be combined and integrated. Such an ambitious interdisciplinary goal requires a long-term relationship between the participants and this studentship network provides and ideal opportunity to initiate such a project, providing a solid basis for future work through collaborative grant applications, such as the BBSRC Longer, Larger grants scheme.