The systems approach to biological research emphasises understanding of complete biological systems, rather than a
reductionist focus on tightly defined component parts. Systems biology is naturally interdisciplinary; research groups
active in this area typically contain experimental and theoretical biologists, mathematicians, statisticians, computer
scientists and engineers. A wide range of tools are used to generate a variety of data types which must be integrated,
presented to and analysed by researchers from any and all of the contributing disciplines. The goal here is to create
predictive models of the system of interest; the models produced must also be analysed, and in the context of the data
from which they were generated. Effective, integrated data and model visualisation methods are crucial if scientificallyappropriate
judgments are to be made.
The Nottingham Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB) takes a systems approach to the study of the root of the
model plant Arabidopsis Thaliana. A rich mixture of data types, many extracted via automatic analysis of individual and
time-ordered sequences of standard CCD and confocal laser microscope images, is used to create models of different
aspects of the growth of the Arabidopsis root. This talk briefly reviews the data sets and flow of information within
CPIB, and discuss issues raised by the need to interpret images of the Arabidopsis root and integrate and present the
resulting data and models to an interdisciplinary audience.