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Getting to the Root of the Problem In Tree Digital Twin Models

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Rendering of a simulated tree using the rhizomorph method.

This biologically plausible simulated tree captures the coordinated development of shoot and root branches, as well as their interaction with the environment by taking up water and nutrients.

Credit: Purdue University

Trees have immeasurable societal benefits. They provide wood, absorb carbon dioxide, shelter animals and insects, but also provide shade and space for people to relax. 

Although forests have been studied and observed for millennia, there are still many open questions to their growth and health. One of them is understanding the way trees consume resources. While tree digital twins (computer models) that simulate branch competition for resources exist, root modeling and interaction with nutrients is still lacking.

Researchers Bosheng Li and Bedrich Benes from Purdue University, together with their collaborators Wojtek PaƂubicki from Adam Mickiewicz University Poland, Soeren Pirk from Adobe Research and the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Germany, and Jonathan Klein and Dominik Michels from KAUST, Saudi Arabia, developed a novel interactive 3D model, called Rhizomorph, that simulates the complex interplay of the coordinated development of tree roots and their response to water and nutrients and the upper canopy and its response to light.

The rhizomorph model will be presented at the annual ACM conference Siggraph in Los Angeles in August 2023.

From Purdue University
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