Plant architecture is determined by cell division and growth, thus simulation models describing these processes are ideal for determining how local development produces the overall plant form. Because fern gametophytes are structurally simple, they are ideal for investigating the effects of cellular growth and division on plant form. In this work we examine the gametophytic development of Schizaea pusilla Pursh., a small, bog-adapted fern whose gametophyte forms as a mass of single-celled filaments. Using light and scanning electron microscopy we made detailed observations of gametophyte development to generate data for a simulation mechanical model of S. pusilla gametophyte development. To examine how plant architecture is an emergent property of cell division, we constructed a simulation model expressed using the formalism of L-systems. While developing a model of growth in this fern we discovered a previously undescribed structure that contributes to the architecture of this plant, which we term knots. We document the development of knots and demonstrate how they contribute to the overall plant architecture.
Download PDF here (1.3 Mb), or download from the publisher's site