The influence of branch order on optimal leaf vein geometries: Murray's law and area preserving branching

Charles Price, S.J.C. Knox, T.J. Brodribb

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    27 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Models that predict the form of hierarchical branching networks typically invoke optimization based on biomechanical similitude, the minimization of impedance to fluid flow, or construction costs. Unfortunately, due to the small size and high number of vein segments found in real biological networks, complete descriptions of networks needed to evaluate such models are rare. To help address this we report results from the analysis of the branching geometry of 349 leaf vein networks comprising over 1.5 million individual vein segments. In addition to measuring the diameters of individual veins before and after vein bifurcations, we also assign vein orders using the Horton-Strahler ordering algorithm adopted from the study of river networks. Our results demonstrate that across all leaves, both radius tapering and the ratio of daughter to parent branch areas for leaf veins are in strong agreement with the expectation from Murray's law. However, as veins become larger, area ratios shift systematically toward values expected under area-preserving branching. Our work supports the idea that leaf vein networks differentiate roles of leaf support and hydraulic supply between hierarchical orders. Copyright: © 2013 Price et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)Article number e85420
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume8
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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