How canalization can make loops: A new model of reticulated leaf vascular pattern formation

François G. Feugier, Yoh Iwasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Formation of the vascular system in plant leaves can be explained by the canalization hypothesis which states that veins are formed in an initially homogeneous field by a self-organizing process between the plant hormone auxin and auxin carrier proteins. Previous models of canalization can generate vein patterns with branching but fail to generate vein patterns with closed loops. However, closed vein loops are commonly observed in plant leaves and are important in making them robust to herbivore attacks and physical damage. Here we propose a new model which generates a vein system with closed loops. We postulate that the "flux bifurcator" level is enhanced in cells with a high auxin flux and that it causes reallocation of auxin carriers toward neighbouring cells also having a high bifurcator level. This causes the auxin flux to bifurcate, allowing vein tips to attach to other veins creating vein loops. We explore several alternative functional forms for the flux bifurcator affecting the reallocation of efflux carriers and examine parameter dependence of the resulting vein pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 21 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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