How trees allocate carbon for optimal growth: Insight from a game-theoretic model

Liyong Fu, Lidan Sun, Han Hao, Libo Jiang, Sheng Zhu, Meixia Ye, Shouzheng Tang, Minren Huang, Rongling Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


How trees allocate photosynthetic products to primary height growth and secondary radial growth reflects their capacity to best use environmental resources. Despite substantial efforts to explore tree height-diameter relationship empirically and through theoretical modeling, our understanding of the biological mechanisms that govern this phenomenon is still limited. By thinking of stem woody biomass production as an ecological system of apical and lateral growth components, we implement game theory to model and discern how these two components cooperate symbiotically with each other or compete for resources to determine the size of a tree stem. This resulting allometry game theory is further embedded within a genetic mapping and association paradigm, allowing the genetic loci mediating the carbon allocation of stemwood growth to be characterized and mapped throughout the genome. Allometry game theory was validated by analyzing a mapping data of stem height and diameter growth over perennial seasons in a poplar tree. Several key quantitative trait loci were found to interpret the process and pattern of stemwood growth through regulating the ecological interactions of stem apical and lateral growth. The application of allometry game theory enables the prediction of the situations in which the cooperation, competition or altruism is an optimal decision of a tree to fully use the environmental resources it owns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-602
Number of pages10
JournalBriefings in bioinformatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Molecular Biology


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