MAize Root System Hydraulic Architecture soLver

View source code Try it online

What is MARSHAL?

MARSHAL is a maize root system hydraulic architecture solver that combines the root architecture model CRootBox (Schnepf et al. 2018) with the method for solving water flow in RSHA of Meunier et al. (2017) and with the method for computing macroscopic parameter of Couvreur et al. (2012).

The model computes water flow at the level of root segments, quantifies the contribution of the water flows of each of the root segments, and predicts the whole conductivity of the root system (Krs) [cm3.hPa-1.d-1] and the potential transpiration, as well as the actual one [cm3 d-1].

Installing MARSHAL

MARSHAL was coded in R, and is therefore platform independant. It can be run on Windows, Linux and MacOS

1. Install R

The first step before running MARSHAL is to install a working version for R. Installation of R are available here:

2. Download MARSHAL

The source code of MARSHAL is available on github: DOI

The fast way is to write down the following lines in your R environment.


3. Install required libraries

MARSHAL is built upon a handfull of external libraries. You will need to install them before using the solver.

  • data.table
  • tidyverse
  • Matrix
  • readxl


Once you have install all the packages

You do not need your own data to try it out.

To run MARSHAL in the R environment, one easy way is to look at the illustration pipeline. DOI

It allows you to:

  • Create root system architecture from example files
  • Take some known conductivity values to add on
  • Make soil water profile scenarios

Feeling adventurous? Check out the source code.

View source code


The SUF in 3D !

Input files

MARSHAL uses four input files:

  • The root system architecture. Which can comes from any .rsml files or from CRootBox directly.
  • The soil water potential along the profile depth. This is where you choose how the water potential [hPa] is distributed along the z axis.
  • The conductivities of the different root type: Kr [cm.hPa-1.d-1] and Kx [cm4.hPa-1.d-1] along the root. The evolution of the conductance is based on the distance from the tip. To calculate other conductivities with the help of another model: MECHA
  • The water potential at the collar [hPa].

Ouput files

MARSHAL output comes out in a list of elements:

  • The whole conductivity of the root system (Krs).
  • The transpiration (Tpot & Tact).
  • The Standard Uptake Fraction (SUF).
  • The radial fluxes of each root segment (Jr).
  • The axial fluxes on top of every root segment (Jxl).
  • The water pressure on each root segment (psi).

About us

MARSHAL was developed at the Université catholique de Louvain, in the Earth and Life Insititute, in the lab of Mathieu Javaux.

The primary developpers of the model are Félicien Meunier, Adrien Heymans, Xavier Draye, Valentin Couvreur, Guillaume Lobet, and Mathieu Javaux.

MARSHAL article is available:

MARSHAL, a novel tool for virtual phenotyping of maize root system hydraulic architectures
Félicien Meunier, Adrien Heymans, Xavier Draye, Valentin Couvreur, Mathieu Javaux, Guillaume Lobet
in silico Plants, 2019

MARSHAL is released under a Apache licence 2.0.

A permissive license whose main conditions require preservation of copyright and license notices. Contributors provide an express grant of patent rights. Licensed works, modifications, and larger works may be distributed under different terms and without source code.

Copyright (c) 2018 Forschungszentrum Jülich
Copyright (c) 2014-2018 UCLouvain
Copyright (c) 2014-2018 INRA-Avignon

Source code on GitHub View paper