Root System

by Jason Amores Sumpter
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Hopefully you remember from our discussion on photosynthesis that plants need water, carbon dioxide and sunlight. You carry out that process. Water provides thes source of electrons. Carbon dioxide is the source of carbon, and sunlight is going to provide the energy needed for this process. In addition to these things, plants also need nutrients. They need nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium in particular, they need these things to build molecules and to maintain their Selves. Basically to lit. They'll die without these things. Um, hopefully you already are your brain years already turning. And you're thinking on nitrogen phosphorous. What could those be used for? Proteins, right? Proteins, nucleic acids to the backbone of nucleic acids Has all those phosphate groups proteins and nucleic acids filled with nitrogen. So, you know, thes nutrients are essential to the basic function of a plants cells. Now, usually these nutrients are obtained from the soil where they're found as ions. Right. So we're not just gonna see ah, plain old potassium sitting around. It's going to be like potassium with the charge on it. Um, of course, potassium is a cat I in, so it's gonna have a positive charge no plants absorb Uhh. You know these nutrients and water through their roots. And of course, they absorb sunlight energy through their leaves. And this absorption is going, or this need for absorption is going to play into the morphology or the appearance of those structures. So leaves have to absorb that sunlight Energy, right. They take the appearance of sheets. This is actually giving them a really high surface area to volume ratio. You might recall that that surface area to volume ratio has a huge effect on absorption. Uh, the higher that ratio, the mawr absorption is possible. So leaves being these broad, very thin structures have very low volume for a huge amount of surface area routes have a slightly lower ratio. Uh, their tube like structures. Right. So they're gonna have mawr volume two more volume compared thio their surface area, but they form a really diffuse network. So they do. They are able thio still generate a large amount of surface area for absorption. Now, the reason they need a little more volume is roots are also going to be super important in for transporting materials. Right, So you need a little space in there in order, Thio move stuff around effectively now. Storage structures which you know, can be found in routes, for example, like tubers where they you know the route will swell up with sugars or something like a carrot, for example, those air structures that are not involved in absorption. And that's why they will actually have the lowest surface area to volume ratio of these parts of the plants. No, uh, you can see the two major parts of a plant right here. We have the chutes and down here, the roots. And of course, you can also see that in this picture of a realtor tree over here, where the earth has been cut away so you can actually see all these roots below ground here. And of course, all these branches and the actual trunk of the tree itself are the shoots, the proverbial shoots. So the root system has a couple jobs. It's not just there to absorb water and ions from the soil. It also anchors the plant into the ground, which is quite important. I mean, you don't want to just blow away. If a gust of wind comes by, uh, roots can also storm materials produced in the chutes for later use. Think of carrot, for example. The actual part where eating is the root of that plant. I mean, this green stuff on top of the carrot, those air, the shoots, we actually eat the root of this plant. We don't really eat the shoots of this plant, Andi. That's because these routes are full of sugar. So they're delicious, right? And that's because they're actually being used for storage purposes, right? It's these green tops that are actually producing the sugars, and then they're being stored in Thedc Arat route. Now, when talking about routes, uh, it's important to get a little terminology straight. Uh, the main dominant route is called the Tap Root. Right here you can see the taproot. I'm drawing a line through it that is our tap root, and it's the dominant root from which all the other roots of the plant will project. Those other roots of the plant are things we call lateral roots, and here I'm going to draw a lateral root for a few lateral roots in red. So those are lateral roots. Now. It's important to note that not all routes are actually going to arise from, uh arise from like some taproot. Some plants are what we call Advantis cious. And basically, these have roots that developed from the shoot system rather than the root system. So here you can see the shoot of a plant. So that is the shoot. Right? And here are some roots sprouting from it thes structures. Right here. You jump out of the image. Sorry. You guys can't see what I'm pointing at. Those are the roots there sprouting off the shoot, making this an Advantis cious plant. Uh, there are a variety of plants that show this sort of morphology. A lot of vines are Advantis cious mawr famously, uh, fig trees send down these long, you know, tendrils from their shoots down to form routes into the ground. Very cool looking. If you've ever seen one in person, it's almost like a canopy of these aerial roots. Now let's turn the page