The micronutrient content in plants highly depends on how “active” their roots are. Roots look for nutrients and water, repel pests and toxins, and interact with microorganisms in their immediate environment. After having focused on improving edible plant parts over a long period of time crop harvesting research projects are now starting to increasingly focus on this potential of the roots.
The simulation of root functions using mathematical methods in a structural plant model, called SimRoot, opens up new possibilities for optimizing root nutrient uptake. The SimRoot models combine features of individual plants with data from their environment. Thus, it can be predicted how the nutrient content of a crop changes in the event of drought and temperature fluctuations, and which physiological and chemical options exist to counteract.
OpenSimRoot can model three-dimensional images of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-ray computed tomography (CT) of roots in the ground (1). Through these methods data about soil-dependent water and nutrient uptake and dissolution and much more can be gathered (2).
(1) JA Postma et al. OpenSimRoot: widening the scope and application of root architectural models. The New Phytologist. August 2017, Jg. 215, Nr.3, S. 1274-1286. ,available via: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5575537/
(2) Images of a simulation of root activities in beans and corn. Cf. ibidem, Fig. 2