PlaSMo meets a need identified as a priority by the plant systems biology community during a workshop on Succeeding in Plant Systems Biology organised by BBSRC and GARNet, the Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network, in July 2005.
Existing types of models used by systems biologists, which are suitable for representing metabolic pathways and genetic regulatory networks at the subcellular and cellular level, lack the properties necessary for modelling the growth and environmental responses of whole plants.
To address this concern, a further meeting bringing together researchers from the systems biology, bioinformatics and agro-ecological modelling communities (Interfacing Systems Biology with Crop and Ecosystem Modelling; Swindon, March 2006) was jointly organised by GARNet and crop scientists from IGER (now IBERS) Aberystwyth.
There was a strong consensus at the meeting that existing crop models, some produced as long ago as the 1960s and 70s, together with more recent approaches such as L-systems modelling of plant morphogenesis, have enormous potential to contribute to plant systems biology.
However, it was acknowledged that much expertise in crop modelling has suffered attrition in the last two decades, and that many of the models developed by these experts were in danger of being lost
A key recommendation in the final report of the workshop was therefore the development of: "a Plant Specific Model Repository - a central resource of current plant based models for others to use and test." PlaSMo is the response.