Journal Article

The Derivation of Sink Functions of Wheat Organs using the GREENLAB Model

Mengzhen Kang, Jochem B. Evers, Jan Vos and Philippe de Reffye

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 101, issue 8, pages 1099-1108
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online November 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
The Derivation of Sink Functions of Wheat Organs using the GREENLAB Model

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

In traditional crop growth models assimilate production and partitioning are described with empirical equations. In the GREENLAB functional–structural model, however, allocation of carbon to different kinds of organs depends on the number and relative sink strengths of growing organs present in the crop architecture. The aim of this study is to generate sink functions of wheat (Triticum aestivum) organs by calibrating the GREENLAB model using a dedicated data set, consisting of time series on the mass of individual organs (the ‘target data’).


An experiment was conducted on spring wheat (Triticum aestivum, ‘Minaret’), in a growth chamber from, 2004 to, 2005. Four harvests were made of six plants each to determine the size and mass of individual organs, including the root system, leaf blades, sheaths, internodes and ears of the main stem and different tillers. Leaf status (appearance, expansion, maturity and death) of these 24 plants was recorded. With the structures and mass of organs of four individual sample plants, the GREENLAB model was calibrated using a non-linear least-square-root fitting method, the aim of which was to minimize the difference in mass of the organs between measured data and model output, and to provide the parameter values of the model (the sink strengths of organs of each type, age and tiller order, and two empirical parameters linked to biomass production).

Key Results and Conclusions

The masses of all measured organs from one plant from each harvest were fitted simultaneously. With estimated parameters for sink and source functions, the model predicted the mass and size of individual organs at each position of the wheat structure in a mechanistic way. In addition, there was close agreement between experimentally observed and simulated values of leaf area index.

Keywords: Wheat; Triticum aestivum ‘Minaret’; tiller; GREENLAB; organ mass; functional–structural model; model calibration; multi-fitting; source–sink

Journal Article.  6056 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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