Multiscale modelling of auxin transport in the plant-root elongation zone

L. Band & J. King

In the root elongation zone of a plant, the hormone auxin moves in a polar manner due to active transport facilitated by spatially distributed influx and efflux carriers present on the cell membranes. To understand how the cell-scale active transport and passive diffusion combine to produce the effective tissue-scale flux, we apply asymptotic methods to a cell-based model of auxin transport to derive systematically a continuum description from the spatially discrete one. Using biologically relevant parameter values, we show how the carriers drive the dominant tissue-scale auxin flux and we predict how the overall auxin dynamics are affected by perturbations to these carriers, for example, in knockout mutants. The analysis shows how the dominant behaviour depends on the cells’ lengths, and enables us to assess the relative importance of the diffusive auxin flux through the cell wall. Other distinguished limits are also identified and their potential roles discussed. As well as providing insight into auxin transport, the study illustrates the use of multiscale (cell to tissue) methods in deriving simplified models that retain the essential biology and provide understanding of the underlying dynamics.

Journal of Mathematical Biology1-43