Faculty Sponsor

Alex Capaldi


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


Non-random mating in Arabidopsis Thaliana is, at least in part, due to intense competition between pollen grains to fertilize the limited number of ovules. Previous studies have pinpointed some of the competition traits that make pollen more or less competitive. Using these competition traits, we will build an agent-based computer model with NetLogo that simulates the competition between two accessions of Arabidopsis Thaliana pollen. This 2D model will allow the user to adjust pollen traits and competition strategies for each of the two pollen accessions. Some of the factors being considered include pollen viability, pollen tube growth rate, nutrients provided by the female, pollen tube attrition and the means of locating unfertilized ovules. To assess the competitiveness of the selected pollen traits, this model will track the number of fertilized ovules and maximum pollen tube length for each accession. This agent-based model will allow further study into the traits that make pollen most competitive as well as the strategies used by pollen to fertilize ovules. This model has the potential to quickly test a wide variety of competition traits and strategies without the need for in-lab experiments.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

I am currently a Sophomore Mechanical Engineering student with minors in Mathematics, Environmental Studies and Electrical/Computer Engineering. I first became involved with this research by taking a math class titled 'Plant Sex'. This math/bio class, revolved around the topic of pollen competition and modeling. I became fascinated with the idea of building computer models to learn about real world systems. At the end of the term, I joined the professors' research team.