Root systems biology: integrative modeling across scales, from gene regulatory networks to the rhizosphere

Plant Physiol. 2013 Dec;163(4):1487-503. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.227215. Epub 2013 Oct 18.


Genetic and genomic approaches in model organisms have advanced our understanding of root biology over the last decade. Recently, however, systems biology and modeling have emerged as important approaches, as our understanding of root regulatory pathways has become more complex and interpreting pathway outputs has become less intuitive. To relate root genotype to phenotype, we must move beyond the examination of interactions at the genetic network scale and employ multiscale modeling approaches to predict emergent properties at the tissue, organ, organism, and rhizosphere scales. Understanding the underlying biological mechanisms and the complex interplay between systems at these different scales requires an integrative approach. Here, we describe examples of such approaches and discuss the merits of developing models to span multiple scales, from network to population levels, and to address dynamic interactions between plants and their environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Plant Roots / genetics*
  • Rhizosphere*
  • Systems Biology*