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Plant Physiology & Nutritional Transportation - Section 1 - Roots

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Plant Physiology & Nutritional Transportation

Section 1 - Roots

Fundamental Gardening Knowledge



As I began to learn this information it had an effect I did not count on.  It applied to my health as well and as I learned and began to appreciate more about plant nutrition I got much better at human nutrition.  In this way we grow each other and goes to examples of how plants farm and manage us. 

  • By learning about plant nutrition it has enabled me to understand and appreciate how bad my personal diet was and what that diet did and did not do for me.

I was consuming an average diet in regular society and thus nutrition should not of been a cause of concern.  As a result of this diet I suffered the typical afflictions associated with such a "normal" diet that the medical community was willing to offer a wide variety of pharmaceutical solutions except for explaining nutrition, diet and simply instructed to check out the internet for such questions.

Well profits skew that way of thinking and a grey area has been created and we end up with socially acceptable foods that actually harm us as honesty about the frequency of those foods would potentially be damning to foods in question.  All things competent those foods really should not be so easily accepted, except for the fact someone makes money off it, so it is ok.  I hope these words reach, for those it does it can help far more than just with growing a healthy garden but also a healthy you in many more ways than we tend to think when looking about plant nutrition.   We are actually talking about living nutrition as it applies in general to most thing.

I shared the above with you with the idea that learning this can potentially help others how it helped me in more ways than one.  I will now discuss only plant physiology and plant nutrition from here and apologize if the above is unwelcome herein.


Plant Physiology Introduction

The following information can be complex and confusing.  It is more important that you understand the basics and the follow up sections will be far less complex as we get into the growth aspects.  Please do your best to understand the basics of this information.  If I can help better explain a confusing subject please let me know and we will find solutions as I am able.

Before we can learn how nutrition helps a plant we need to understand how the plant grows and functions throughout its various stages.  In knowing this we can better apply other management practices as to optimally garden.  Plant physiology is the basis for which the rest of the information will be based on.  We will start by discussing the basic plant structure in terms of energy production and nutritional transportation system of a plant.

  • It will help if you understand a bit of thermodynamics and kinetics but this is for more advanced understandings.

As we progress to the nutritional segments of these lessons we will discuss the different varieties of plant foods from organics to salts and their qualities, their benefits, their negatives, how to use, why to use and when to use.  In so doing you will be able to gain knowledge on how to evaluate the many fertilizer options and select from a learn-id position rather than a marketed direction.

This is a compilation of information from a variety of sources with the intention of effective instruction.  I have tried to give all credit for materials used.  Any error is just that, an error and is unintentional and once brought to attention will be correct as appropriate.  This is a not a money/profit generating enterprise.


Plant Tissue Types & Structure

  • Dermal - Epidermis, Periderm = Prevents loss of water and protects the plant like a skin.
  • Ground -  Parenchyma, Collenchyma, Schlerenchyma = Metabolism, Storage & Support.
  • Vascular - Xylem, Phloem = Transport water and sugar.



Plant Environments (Roots & Shoots)

We often think of the plant environment as one thing but it is really two different environments.  Above and below the ground and is referred to as "roots' and "shoots." 

  • By understanding these environments and how it affects plant biology we can better understand how nutrition affects the plant and can begin to better understand how to manage a plant in various stages and environments for optimal growth.



Ground (Roots) Environment

This is the area of the roots and media layer.  Regardless if hydroponic or soil based it is considered ground or roots.  In following sections we will discuss the different aspects of hydroponic and soil based system medias but for this specific lesson we will consider it one medium type of simply "ground" or "roots" when referencing this area of the plant.

This is the area where plants store energy, the roots.

  • Roots transportation process:
    • Water/Salts/Oxygen > Root hairs > Xylem > Leafs > Evaporate > Pressure moves water up each evaporation like a chain.
      • Water/salts move upward via pressure controlled in part by osmotic pressure via water evaporation humidity and temperature.
      • Notice that oxygen is taken up by the roots.  This Oxygen is used in cell respiration, discussed later.
        • This is a key reason why it is important for good drainage for the type of plant you are gardening/landscaping.


Type of roots


Root Examples



Monocot root illustration


Tap root - Dicot plants & ferns.

  • Is the main root and will sprout other roots laterally.
  • Anchors the plant
  • Can grow deep in search of water and begin to break up lower harder soil layers and initiate the tapping of lower minerals within the lower soil column.





Fibrous roots - Monocot & cloned plants.

  • Fine roots that extend from the main stem of the plant.
  • Trees 30–50 m tall has a root system that extends horizontally in all directions as far as the tree is tall or more, but around 95% of the roots are in the top 50 cm depth of soil. 
  • Plants can be managed to be better drought resistant by training the plants to dig deeper before it makes fibrous roots as to increase the depth of the roots at the top of the media column.  This is only effect if water is accessible via water table, in low water areas this may or may not be as effective depending on the plant type.



Parallel venation plants have fibrous roots. Reticulated venation seed plants have tap roots.


Adventitious roots (clones and stress roots)

  • Adventitious roots (clones and stress roots) are plant roots that form from any non-root tissue and are produced both during normal development and in response to stress conditions, such as flooding, nutrient deprivation, and wounding.
    • We will discuss the rooting due to stress aspect in more depth in a future writing.
    • All plant cells have the DNA to create a cloned plant besides the root.
    • Can be induced by ECMs or Agrobacterium rhizogenes (Bacteria that transfer DNA to plant and create root hairs, used in study and in instances as managing for drought resistence.)
    • Age‐dependent process.
    • Auxin cross talks with other hormones to control adventitious rooting.
    • Adventitious rooting is a complex quantitative genetic trait.



Unstressed and stressed roots via flooding illustrations


  • Adventitious root development in response to flooding.
  • Under aerated conditions, gaseous ethylene escapes from plant tissues, but during flooding, water acts as a physical barrier, trapping ethylene in the plant.
  • Gibberellic Acid or GA enhances the ethylene-promoted adventitious root growth,
    • Abscisic acid reduces the effect.
  • Ethylene triggers reactive oxygen species production, and together they trigger epidermal programmed cell death for root emergence and cortical programmed cell death lysigenous aerenchyma formation.
  • The main difference in some eudicots (e.g. tomato) is the requirement for de novo adventitious root initiation via auxin and ethylene signaling.
    • In the cross section, epidermis and exodermis are combined, but the exodermis can be several cell layers adjacent to the epidermis.
      • Yellow roots are adventitious roots, (diagram above)
      • blue and pink roots are lateral roots, (diagram above)
      • and white roots are primary roots. (diagram above)
      • Pointed arrows represent positive interactions, and flat-ended arrows represent negative interactions. (diagram above)


Adventitious root emergence



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