Photosynthesis is the best-understood plant process: each of the more than 100 discrete steps and underlying genes is known from the light capture and electron transfer to carbon dioxide fixation and sugar synthesis. Coupling this rich knowledge with modeling has enabled us to predict opportunities and optimal engineering designs to improve photosynthesis.
With the rapid increase in high-performance computing, it has become possible to simulate photosynthesis in dynamic models in which each of the coupled reactions is fully represented, providing a realistic in silico representation of the entire process with a system of linked differential equations. We have developed realistic renderings of the crop leaf canopies to more accurately predict the dynamics of crop microclimate and light energy distribution. We can now combine these two kinds of simulations into one robust modeling system.