24th CISM-IUTAM International Summer School on "Plant Biomechanics"

July 8, 2019 — July 12, 2019


  • Christophe Eloy (Ecole Centrale Marseille, France)
  • Yoël Forterre (Aix-Marseille University, France)

Plants offer some of the most elegant applications of Mechanics to be found in Nature. Wind-induced leaf fluttering, waves on wheat crops or seed dispersal by the wind are well-known illustrations of the interaction of plants with an external flow. Mechanics play also a central role in the physiology of plants. Terrestrial plants and trees are hydraulic machines that take water deep into the soil to raise it to the leaves through osmosis and evaporation. The motor of plant growth and movement results from a balance between the mechanical stresses in the cell wall and the water pressure inside. All these external and internal forces are perceived by plants and participate in their development and their morphogenesis. Understanding these functions is of crucial importance for a better management of agriculture or to forecast plants behavior in this period of rapid environmental changes.

The objective of this CISM International Summer School is to provide an introduction to Plant Biomechanics at all scales, from the cellular and tissue level to the whole plant and ecosystem level. Lectures will combine concepts from plant biology (anatomy, physiology) and continuum mechanics (elasticity, plasticity, fluid mechanics, rheology, instabilities, modeling). Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the course topic, and, consequently, of the expected audience, a great attention will be paid on introducing biological and mathematical concepts at the basic level first, before going deeper in the description and eventually reach research topics.

The school will be composed of 6 lectures given by world-renowned experts covering all the main aspects of plant biomechanics. Time will be allocated during the week for attendees to present their own research work through short talks. The first two lectures will deal with the mechanics of plant growth and morphogenesis. Anja Geitmann (McGill, Canada) will focus on the cellular level and give the basic notion of biology needed for the rest of the course, while Oliver Jensen (Manchester University, UK) will describe different aspects of the modeling of growing plant tissues.

Two lectures will then address plant fluid mechanics. Missy Holbrook (Harvard University, USA) will be in charge of describing internal flows (sap ascent, sugar transport) and Emmanuel de Langre (Polytechnique, France) will discuss the interaction of plants with an external flow.

The last two lectures will discuss plant biomechanics in the broader perspective of plant ecophysiology and evolution. Bruno Moulia (INRA, France) will give a lecture on how plants respond and adapt to their environment, with a focus on tree biomechanics, while Karl Niklas (Cornell University) will address the global biomechanical constraints that shaped plant structure and function through evolution.

The targeted audience for this Summer School will be PhD students, postdoctoral, and young researchers in departments of Physics, Biophysics, Biology, Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Agricultural Sciences.


See also