Shaping the organ: How plants make forms

How do plants make organs? This simple but intriguing question has been the subject of research for almost a century. In this article we will go through the history of the study of plant development from the perspective of computational modelling: the problems, the algorithms, and the software tools developed to study plant organs formation.


We are living in the computer era. Every day, huge amount of data is produced in research laboratories and there is a strong need for advanced tools to process and elaborate this data. Computational models represent today a fundamental tool in scientists' everyday life across all fields of knowledge, and plant development is no exception. In this review we provide a comprehensive analysis of the most important achievements in the field of computational plant morphodynamics, describing how the most successful algorithms of pattern generation were discovered and how they have been implemented to generate realistic simulations of plant organs development. We further provide a brief survey of the available software frameworks that make plant modelling possible for scientists even without a specific computational training. For more information about plant modelling please visit us at


Original Paper:

Marconi, M., Wabnik, K. 2021. Shaping the Organ: A Biologist Guide to Quantitative Models of Plant Morphogenesis. Frontiers in Plant Science 12, 2171. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2021.746183