Auxin transport model for leaf venation

Jan Haskovec, Henrik Jönsson, Lisa Maria Kreusser, Peter Markowich

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The plant hormone auxin controls many aspects of the development of plants. One striking dynamical feature is the self-organization of leaf venation patterns which is driven by high levels of auxin within vein cells. The auxin transport is mediated by specialized membrane-localized proteins. Many venation models have been based on polarly localized efflux-mediator proteins of the PIN family. Here, we investigate a modelling framework for auxin transport with a positive feedback between auxin fluxes and transport capacities that are not necessarily polar, i.e. directional across a cell wall. Our approach is derived from a discrete graph-based model for biological transportation networks, where cells are represented by graph nodes and intercellular membranes by edges. The edges are not a priori oriented and the direction of auxin flow is determined by its concentration gradient along the edge. We prove global existence of solutions to the model and the validity of Murray's Law for its steady states. Moreover, we demonstrate with numerical simulations that the model is able connect an auxin source-sink pair with a mid-vein and that it can also produce branching vein patterns. A significant innovative aspect of our approach is that it allows the passage to a formal macroscopic limit which can be extended to include network growth. We perform mathematical analysis of the macroscopic formulation, showing the global existence of weak solutions for an appropriate parameter range.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190015
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2231
Early online date20 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2019


  • Continuum limit
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Numerical simulation
  • Weak solutions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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