An Agent-based Model of Pollen Competition in Arabidopsis thaliana

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Alex Capaldi


Arts and Sciences


Mathematics & Statistics (VERUM)

ORCID Identifier(s)

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8828-6140 https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4148-2627 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0658-1665

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-29-2019


In 2016, Swanson et al. showed that when an Arabidopsis thaliana stigma is pollinated with equal amounts of pollen by two accessions, Columbia and Landsberg, Columbia pollen sire disproportionately more seeds. This phenomenon is known as nonrandom mating. Previous experiments have investigated nonrandom mating by examining how pollen performance traits such as proportion of pollen germinated, time to germination, and pollen tube growth rates differ between these two accessions. In addition, bioenergetics, such as the energy supplied to pollen tubes from the pistil during fertilization, likely also magnify competition. While plant fertilization is well-studied, the exact mechanics of pollen competition remain unknown. Using an agent-based model, we aim to identify the traits that cause pollen from one accession to sire more offspring than pollen from another accession and to what extent these traits contribute to this process. We calibrate our model against a number of parameters from empirical data to observe the output of seed siring proportions from mixed pollinations; we compare these values to those found in the literature. Our model can also be extended to predict seed siring proportions for other accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana given data on their pollen performance traits.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Charlotte Beckford, Montana Ferita, and Julie Fucarino are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in mathematics at Fordham University, Westminster College (Pa), and Wellesley College respectively. Collectively, we are interested in gaining research experience in applied mathematics or mathematical biology which prompted us to apply for this specific project regarding pollen competition.

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