Towards modelling emergence in plant systems.

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Plants are complex systems made up of many interacting components, ranging from architectural elements such as branches and roots, to entities comprising cellular processes such as metabolic pathways and gene regulatory networks. The collective behaviour of these components, along with the plant’s response to the environment, give rise to the plant as a whole. Properties that result from these interactions and cannot be attributed to individual parts alone are called emergent properties, occurring at different time and spatial scales. Deepening our understanding of plant growth and development requires computational tools capable of handling a large number of interactions and a multiscale approach connecting properties across scales. There currently exist few methods able to integrate models across scales, or models capable of predicting new emergent plant properties. This perspective explores current approaches to modelling emergent behaviour in plants, with a focus on how current and future tools can handle multiscale plant systems.