Plants have very complex metabolisms- they synthesise a majority of their metabolites from components such as carbon and nitrogen which are taken up from their environments.
However, the environment in which a plant grows can affect the amounts of these components that it requires.
The plant must perform a balancing act, optimising the complex interactions of demands upon its resources produced by growth, development and metabolic processes such as respiration. This project investigates the interplay between these demands, and how the optimisation of multiple processes can be investigated.
Where the optimal allocation of resources is concerned, there is not one single ‘optimal’ solution to be found. Because there are multiple factors that must be optimised- photosynthetic output, biomass, nitrogen accumulation, formation of specific organs such as root nodules or leaves.
This means that the optimal solutions which can be computed actually lie along a Pareto front. This is a mathematical concept (fig. 2) which allows one to explore the relationship between multiple factors in this manner. It allows one to find the collection of values (the Pareto front) where an increase in a given value (eg., biomass) would result in a decrease in another (eg. photsynthetic output).