Simulation of heterosis in a genome-scale metabolic network provides mechanistic explanations for increased biomass production rates in hybrid plants

Michael Vacher, Ian Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Heterosis, or hybrid vigour, is said to occur when F1 individuals exhibit increased performance for a number of traits compared to their parental lines. Improved traits can include increased size, better yield, faster development and a higher tolerance to pathogens or adverse conditions. The molecular basis for the phenomenon remains disputed, despite many decades of theorising and experimentation. In this study, we add a genetics layer to a constraint-based model of plant (Arabidopsis) primary metabolism and show that we can realistically reproduce and quantify heterosis in a highly complex trait (the rate of biomass production). The results demonstrate that additive effects coupled to the complex patterns of epistasis generated by a large metabolic network are sufficient to explain most or all the heterosis seen in typical F1 hybrids. Such models provide a simple approach to exploring and understanding heterosis and should assist in designing breeding strategies to exploit this phenomenon in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Journalnpj Systems Biology and Applications
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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