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The growth of the root of Arabidopsis thaliana is sustained by the meristem, a region of cell proliferation and differentiation which is located in the root apex and generates cells which move shootwards, expanding rapidly to cause root growth. The balance between cell division and differentiation is maintained via a signalling network, primarily coordinated by the hormones auxin, cytokinin and gibberellin. Since these hormones interact at different levels of spatial organisation, we develop a multi-scale computational model which enables us to study the interplay between these signalling networks and cell-cell communication during the specification of the root meristem. We investigate the responses of our model to hormonal perturbations, validating the results of our simulations against experimental data. Our simulations suggest that one or more additional components are needed to explain the observed expression patterns of a regulator of cytokinin signalling, ARR1, in roots not producing gibberellin. By searching for novel network components, we identify two mutant lines that affect significantly both root length and meristem size, one of which also differentially expresses a central component of the interaction network (SHY2). More generally, our study demonstrates how a multi-scale investigation can provide valuable insight into the spatio-temporal dynamics of signalling networks in biological tissues.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of theoretical biology

Publication Date





182 - 205


Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, University of Nottingham, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK; The Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DS, UK; Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK. Electronic address:


Arabidopsis, Meristem, Gibberellins, Indoleacetic Acids, Triazoles, Zeatin, Plant Growth Regulators, Arabidopsis Proteins, Organ Size, Reproducibility of Results, Signal Transduction, Biological Transport, Models, Biological