Modelling cell separation during plant organ abscission

S McCue, T Bartsch, RJ Dyson, M Beguerisse-Diaz & OE Jensen

A simple mathematical model is presented to describe the cell separation process that plants undertake in order to deliberately shed organs. The focus here is on modelling the production of the enzyme polygalacturonase, which breaks down pectin that provides natural cell-to-cell adhesion in the localised abscission zone. A coupled system of three ordinary differential equations is given for a single cell, and then extended to hold for a layer of cells in the abscission zone. Simple observations are made based on the results of this preliminary model and, furthermore, a number of opportunities for applied mathematicians to make contributions in this subject area are discussed.

Proceedings of the 2nd Mathematics in the Plant Sciences Study Group