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Simulation of inflorescence dynamics in oil palm and estimation of environment-sensitive phenological phases: a model based analysis

By Jean-Claude Combres, Benoit Pallas, Lauriane Rouan, Isabelle Mialet-Serra, Jean-Pierre Caliman, Serge Braconnier, Jean-Christophe Soulie and Michaël DINGKUHN

Abstract

UMR AGAP - équipe AFEF - Architecture et fonctionnement des espèces fruitièresFor oil palm, yield variation is in large part due to variation in the number of harvested bunches. Each successively-produced phytomer carries a female (productive), male or aborted inflorescence. Since phytomer development takes 3–4 years and nearly two phytomers are produced per month, many inflorescences develop in parallel but have different phenological stages. Environment-dependent developmental rate, sex and abortion probability determine bunch productivity, which, in turn, affects other phytomers via source–sink relationships. Water deficit, solar radiation, temperature and day length are considered key external factors driving variation. Their impact is difficult to predict because of system complexity. To address this question we built a simple model (ECOPALM) to simulate the variation in number of harvested bunches. In this model, trophic competition among organs, expressed through a plant-scale index (Ic), drives sex determination and inflorescence abortion during specific sensitive phases at phytomer level. As a supplemental hypothesis, we propose that flowering is affected by photoperiod at phytomer level during a sensitive phase, thus, contributing to seasonal production peaks. The model was used to determine by parameter optimisation the influence of Ic and day length on inflorescence development and the stages at which inflorescences are sensitive to these signals. Parameters were estimated against observation of number of harvested bunches in Ivory Coast using a genetic algorithm. The model was then validated with field observations in Benin and Indonesia. The sensitive phases determined by parameter optimisation agreed with independent experimental evidence, and variation of Ic explained both sex and abortion patterns. Sex determination seemed to coincide with floret meristem individualisation and occurred 29–32 months before bunch harvest. The main abortion stage occurred 10 months before harvest – at the beginning of rapid growth of the inflorescence. Simulation results suggest involvement of photoperiod in the determination of bunch growth dynamics. This study demonstrates that simple modelling approaches can help extracting ecophysiological information from simple field observations on complex systems

Topics: inflorescence abortion, parameter optimisation, photoperiod, plant growth model, sex determination, source–sink relationships, [SDV.BV]Life Sciences [q-bio]/Vegetal Biology
Publisher: 'CSIRO Publishing'
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1071/FP12133
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:hal-01269217v1
Provided by: HAL-CIRAD
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