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Mechanical Stress Induces Remodeling of Vascular Networks in Growing Leaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Yohai Bar-Sinai
  • Jean-Daniel Julien
  • Eran Sharon
  • Shahaf Armon
  • Naomi Nakayama
  • Mokhtar Adda-Bedia
  • Arezki Boudaoud

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    Rights statement: Copyright: © 2016 Bar-Sinai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1004819
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2016


Differentiation into well-defined patterns and tissue growth are recognized as key processes in organismal development. However, it is unclear whether patterns are passively, homogeneously dilated by growth or whether they remodel during tissue expansion. Leaf vascular networks are well-fitted to investigate this issue, since leaves are approximately two-dimensional and grow manyfold in size. Here we study experimentally and computationally how vein patterns affect growth. We first model the growing vasculature as a network of viscoelastic rods and consider its response to external mechanical stress. We use the so-called texture tensor to quantify the local network geometry and reveal that growth is heterogeneous, resembling non-affine deformations in composite materials. We then apply mechanical forces to growing leaves after veins have differentiated, which respond by anisotropic growth and reorientation of the network in the direction of external stress. External mechanical stress appears to make growth more homogeneous, in contrast with the model with viscoelastic rods. However, we reconcile the model with experimental data by incorporating randomness in rod thickness and a threshold in the rod growth law, making the rods viscoelastoplastic. Altogether, we show that the higher stiffness of veins leads to their reorientation along external forces, along with a reduction in growth heterogeneity. This process may lead to the reinforcement of leaves against mechanical stress. More generally, our work contributes to a framework whereby growth and patterns are coordinated through the differences in mechanical properties between cell types.

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