Systems biology is all about networks. A recent trend has been to associate systems biology exclusively with the study of gene regulatory or protein-interaction networks. However, systems biology approaches can be applied at many other scales, from the subatomic to the ecosystem scales. In this review, we describe studies at the sub-cellular, tissue, whole plant and crop scales and highlight how these studies can be related to systems biology. We discuss the properties of system approaches at each scale as well as their current limits, and pinpoint in each case advances unique to the considered scale but representing potential for the other scales. We conclude by examining plant models bridging different scales and considering the future prospects of plant systems biology.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.