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Absorption by Roots

A. B. C. D.

Roots and its importance Water and its importance Minerals and its importance Modes of Absorption and Conduction of Water and Minerals E. Terminology F. Absorption of Water G. Absorption of Minerals
G.1. Active Absorption G.2. Passive Absorption

H. Ascent of Sap
H.1. Path of conduction of water H.1.1. Experiment to show that the water is conducted through the tracheary elements of xylem. H.2. Mechanism of Ascent of Sap H.2.1. Root Pressure Theory H.2.2. Capillary Theory H.2.3. Transpirational Pull Theory

E.1. Imbibition E.2. Diffusion E.3. Osmosis

E. Terminology

E.2. 1 Diffusion of Gases E.2. 2 Diffusion of Liquids E.3. 1 Demonstration of Osmosis E.3. 2 Osmosis in Living Tissues E.3.2.1 Experiment demonstrating osmosis in living tissues E.3.3 Types of OSMOSIS E.3.3.1 Endosmosis E.3.3.2 Exosmosis E.3.4 Osmotic Pressure E.3.5 Importance of Osmosis E.3.6 Difference between Diffusion and Osmosis

E.4. Tonicity (Types of Solutions)

E.4.1 Hypertonic Solutions E.4.2 Hypotonic Solutions E.4.3 Isotonic Solutions

(Continue) E. Terminology
E.5. Turgor Pressure and Turgidity E.6. Wall Pressure E.7. Flaccidity E.8. Utility of Turgidity E.9. Root Pressure
E.9.1 Experiment to demonstrate root pressure in Plants.

E.10. Plasmolysis and Deplasmolysis

E.10.1 Experiment to demonstrate the phenomenon of plasmolysis and deplasmolysis E.10.2 Difference in Plasmolysis and Osmosis

A. Roots and its importance

All terrestrial plants absorb water and minerals from the soil with the help of their roots (except Epiphytes & Parasites). Then they transport to all the other parts of the plant. Most of the water absorbed is lost through the aerial parts of the plants like stomata. This maintains a continuous suction in the plant which makes the roots absorb water continuously according to their need.

B. Water and its importance

1). Water is the main component of protoplasm It makes up approx. 80-85% of it. Without water protoplasm becomes inactive. 2). In absence of water, characters of different organic components synthesized are lost. 3). Water transports minerals to the different parts of plants by ascent of sap. 4). Water controls the opening & closing of stomata.

5). Water is essential for seed germination. 6). Water is one of the raw material for the process of photosynthesis. 7). Due to water, transpiration rate accelerates. 8). Scarcity of water affects the growth of plants. 9). Turgidity of cell depends upon the quantity of water and turgidity maintains shape of cell or plant part.

C. Minerals and its importance

Plants absorb minerals from the soil by their roots. Some minerals are absorbed in the form of ion (Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium etc..) While some are absorbed in the combined form (Phosphates, Nitrates, Sulphates etc) Minerals are needed as the raw materials for the growth of cells, for making enzyme and pigments as well as other metabolic activities.

To understand the absorption of water and minerals let us first learn the meaning of the following terms: Imbibition Diffusion Osmosis Turgidity Plasmolysis Active Transport Passive Transport

D. Modes of Absorption and Conduction of Water and Minerals

E.1. Imbibition
When living or dead cells of a plant, in their dry or semi-dry state, absorb water by surface attraction, the process is known as IMBIBITION. E.g. when dry grams / dry chana / green dry moong soaked in water for whole night Imbibition takes place and it swells.

E.2. Diffusion
All substances are made up of minute particles called molecules. In Solid, molecules are packed closely with no intra-molecular space, so difficult to move freely. But in Liquid, molecules are loosely packed with more intra-molecular space so it can move freely with kinetic energy. While in Gas, molecules are very loosely packed with very large intra-molecular space so it can move very freely with its own kinetic energy.

The direction of movement of these particles is from the region of their higher concentration to the region of their lower concentration to equalize the concentration of two regions. This process is called DIFFUSION. Diffusion is movement of molecules, or ions of a gas, liquid or solid from an area of greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration.

E.2.1 Diffusion of Gases

Burning of an incense stick in a corner of a room we can smell it everywhere in the room because the molecules diffuse through the air.

E.2.2 Diffusion of Liquids

Addition of Potassium permanganate crystals in the beaker containing water. After sometime the water turns purplish. Here the molecules of Potassium Permanganate diffuse in water. In plants, CO2 & O2 are exchanged by diffusion & water enters inside the root by the a special type of diffusion.

Diffusion in Liquids

Diffusion in Liquids

E.3. Osmosis
The movement of Solvent molecules from a region of high conc. to a region of a low conc. through a semi-permeable membrane.

Osmosis: moving of solvent (water) molecules from higher conc. to lower conc.

1). Permeable membrane: If a membrane allows the passage of both solvent and solute molecules, it is called permeable e.g. Cell wall 2). Semi-permeable membrane: If a membrane allows the passage of solvent molecules, it is called semi-permeable. (differentially permeable membrane) e.g. Plasma membrane 3). Impermeable membrane: If a membrane does not allow the passage of any substance through it is called impermeable e.g. Rubber sheet.


E.3.1.Demonstration of OSMOSIS

Thistle funnel expt. Related to osmosis assVIII/Botany/main.php?file=Thistle_Funnel_ Experiment_to_Explain_Osmosis.html

E.4. Tonicity (Types of Solution)

In relation to cell sap, solutions can be of 3 types 1). Hypertonic Solution: [hyper = more]. A solution whose concentration is more than that of the cell sap is known as Hypertonic. If a cell placed in such solution, water will diffuse out of it and protoplasm shrinks / contracts. (Exosmosis occurs)

2). Hypotonic Solution: [hypo = less]. When the concentration of a solution is less than that of the cell sap, it is known as hypotonic. If a cell is immersed in hypotonic solution, water will diffuse into the cell and it will increase in size. (Endosmosis occurs)

3). Isotonic Solution: [iso = the same]. A solution with concentration equal to that of the cell sap, known as isotonic. If a cell is placed in isotonic solution there would be no diffusion of water. As a result there is no change in the volume and weight of the cell.(No Osmosis)



E.3.3. Types of OSMOSIS

There are two types of OSMOSIS
1). Endosmosis 2). Exosmosis

E.3.3.1. Endosmosis
Endosmosis: When a cell is placed in a HYPOtonic solution, water will enter into the cell from the outer (hypotonic) solution. It is because the cell sap is more concentrated (possess less water molecules) than the outer solution. This process of osmosis is called ENDOSMOSIS. It will result in increase in the volume of the cell.



E.3.3.2. Exosmosis
Exosmosis: When a cell is immersed in HYPER-tonic solution, water will diffuse out of the cell because the concentration of water molecules in the cell is more than in the outer solution. This process is described as EXOSMOSIS.



E.4. Osmotic Pressure

It is defined as the pressure needed to prevent the entry of pure water into an aqueous solution through a semipermeable membrane, thereby preventing an increase in the volume of the solution. O.P is directly proportional to the number of solute molecules per unit Volume of solvent molecules.

If a fresh water plant is transferred to marine water, it dies due to Exosmosis. If a marine plant is transferred to fresh water, it bursts due to Endosmosis. It becomes difficult to close wooden doors in rainy season because they swell by imbibing moisture.

E.3.5. Importance of OSMOSIS

Maximum amt of water (70%) moves across the tonoplast (Vacuolar Membrane) by osmosis & plays a major role in water absorption than any process of water entry in the plant. Plasmolysis is dependent on osmosis. The intact plant cell when placed in distilled water will expand due to absorption of water by osmosis. The shape of the organelles in a cell is maintained due to Osmosis. During unfavorable condition, the resistance increases the osmotic pressure of their cells.

E.3.6.Difference between Diffusion and Osmosis

1). No involvement of any membrane 2). Diffusion takes place is solids, liquids and in gases. 3). It is a slow process.

1). It takes place through Semi-permeable membrane 2). Osmosis takes place in liquids (solvent) only. 3). It is rapid in gases.

E.5. Turgor Pressure and Turgidity

When the water enters in a cell by endosmosis, the cell wall suffers distension, and a considerable pressure is set up in the cell between the cell sap on the one hand and the elastic cell wall on the other. This state of distended condition is known as TURGIDITY or TURGESCENCE. The actual hydrostatic pressure, developed inside a cell as a result of this entry of water into it is called TURGOR PRESSURE. A Cell is said to be fully turgid when it cannot absorb any more water or when turgor pressure is maximum. The pressure that causes water to enter a plant cell is known as SUCTION PRESSURE.

E.6. Wall Pressure

When the cell sap exerts pressure on the cell wall then an inward pressure is exerted on the cell contents by the stretched cell walls. This is called as WALL PRESSURE.

Facts about Pressure in the cell

In a turgid cell, the outward turgor pressure is counteracted by the inward wall pressure, and both counter balance each other. 3 factors that influence the turgidity of cells are: a). Formation of osmotically active substance inside the cell. b). An adequate supply of water. c). A semi-permeable membrane.

E.7. Flaccidity
When a living cell is placed in a hypertonic solution, fluid (water) is drawn out of the cell sap by Exosmosis. The turgidity is lost & the cell becomes soft & limp. Such a cell is said to have become FLACCID. As the cells becomes flaccid the organs like leaves, twigs etc, especially in herbaceous plants droops down. This process is called WILTING.

E.8. Utility of Turgidity

1). Turgidity is essential for growth. 2). It brings temporary changes in form which are rendered permanent by the formation of new substances. 3). Many purposeful movements are brought about by altered conditions of turgidity. E.g. nutation movements, opening and closing of stomata, etc 4). Water is forced into Xylem vessels due to the turgidity of the cortical cells of the root. 5). Turgidity of the parenchyma cells gives necessary rigidity to the plants. 6). Turgidity in root cells creates root pressure.

E.9. Root Pressure

It is a pressure exerted on the liquid contents of the cortical cells of the root, under fully turgid condition, forcing a quantity of water into the xylem vessels and through them upwards into the stem upon a certain height. Root pressure is a sort of hydrostatic pressure developed in the roots due to accumulation of absorbed water. Root pressure develops largely due to osmotic phenomenon.

E.9.1. Experiment to demonstrate root pressure

E. 10. Plasmolysis
In hypertonic solution water comes out of the cell, due to Exosmosis. As a result of continued Exosmosis the protoplasm shrinks and pulls away from the cell wall. This process is called PLAMOLYSIS and the cell is called plasmolysed. In a plasmolysed plant cell, the space between the contracted protoplasm and the cell wall remains filled with external solution.

The initial stage of plasmolysis is called INCIPIENT plasmolysis. If the cell in such condition is immersed in water or in a hypotonic solution, the cell regains its turgidity as endosmosis takes place. But if the incipient plasmolysis continues then permanent plasmolysis takes place and hence such cell cannot regains its turgidity even after it is transferred to hypotonic solution. It eventually dies.

E.10. Deplasmolysis
If a plasmolysed cell is kept in water, or a hypotonic solution, water molecules diffuse into the cell by endosmosis, and the cell gradually regains its normal turgid condition. It is called DEPLASMOLYSIS.

E.10.1. Experiment to demonstrate the phenomenon of plasmolysis and deplasmolysis

From the lower surface of the leaf of tradescantia, remove a small peel (epidermis) with the help of a blade. Take a peel on the slide and mount with a drop of water. Examine under the microscope. A red colour content occupies the cell. Remove the water with the help of blotting paper, add a few drops of strong salt solution or sugar solution. The cell get plasmolysed, the protoplasm (with red colour) shrinks away from the cell wall. Remove the salt / sugar solution. Add a few drops of water to the peel. Examine after a few minutes in the microscope. The cell contents regain original condition (deplasmolysis).

Plasmolysis: It happens when cell is in hypertonic solution and water

comes out due to Exosmosis and protoplasm shrinks and cell wall remains intact.

Deplasmolysis: When plasmolysed cell (shrink cells) are placed in

hypotonic solution, water enters due to Endosmosis and it regain its normal turgid condition.

E.10.2 Difference between Osmosis and Plasmolysis

1). It is a physical process
2). In this process, water molecules move through semi-permeable membrane from region of higher diffusion pressure to lower diffusion pressure. i.e. towards concentrated solution.

1). It is a vital process, concerned with living cells. 2). In this process, water diffuses out of the cell as a result of Exosmosis. This causes protoplasm to contract away from the cell wall.

F. Absorption of water

F. Absorption of Water

Regions of root

Diagrammatic section of root to show passage of water from the soil.

F. Absorption of water by Plants

Root hair is an outgrowth or elongations of epidermal cell of the root and it grows perpendicular to the surface of an epidermis. Root hairs are about 200 300 per of epidermis in the root hair zone. They vary from 0.1 to 10 mm in length and has diameter of about 0.01 mm. The large no. of root hairs and their dimensions immensely increase the absorbing surface of the roots. Root hairs survive for only a few days or at the most a few weeks.

Some plants absorbs water through leaves e.g. leaves of redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) absorbs water from fog. Some epiphytes (orchids) absorb moisture from the atmosphere by their specially modified hanging roots (aerial roots).

Absorption of water by roots

Absorption of water takes place with the help of root hairs. Root hairs are the elongation of an epidermal cells. Root hairs are in the contact with the soil particles and capillary water. Vacuole contains cell sap solution of mineral salts + organic acids.

Normally, cell sap is more concentrated i.e. hypertonic than soil solution (soil water or capillary water). As a result water from the soil enters the cell by the process of Endosmosis through permeable cell wall and semi-permeable plasma membrane and make the cell sap dilute. Cells of Cortex are in contact with the Epidermal cells. Cortical cells are hypertonic than epidermal cells which have now became hypotonic.

So the water from the epidermal cell enters the cortical cells by the process of Osmosis. Hence the water entering the cortical cells decreases the their Osmotic pressure and increases the Turgor pressure. As a result the water soon comes out of the cortical cells and enters the Endodermis then peri-cycle cells and finally to Xylem vessels and tissues. In this way water is absorbed and translocated up to xylem of the root by osmosis.

2 types of Absorption of water by roots

When the water is absorbed as a result of activities in the root itself and due to osmotic differences, then this absorption is called ACTIVE ABSORPTION. Due to continuously transpiration the xylem is in a state of negative tension. The suction force created by the rapidly moving water is transmitted to the root and water is literally pulled into the root from the soil. This is called PASSIVE WATER ABSORPTION.

G. Absorption of Minerals
Mineral salts are found either as soluble fraction of soil solution or as adsorbed ion on the surface of colloidal particles. Mineral absorption is an independent process. These are not absorbed with water. Most of the minerals of soil occur in ionic forms, they are absorbed by 2 methods. 1). Passive Absorption 2). Active Absorption

G.1. Passive Absorption

It is the absorption of solute by cells according to ordinary laws of diffusion. It is believed that minerals are absorbed by A). Ion Exchange B). Donnan equilibrium. A). Ion Exchange: In ion-exchange process ionized minerals in soil are exchanged with those present inside the cell. Both cations and anions are exchanged through this mechanism. B). Donnan Equilibrium: It takes into account the effect of fixed or in-diffusible ions (proteins) present in cell sap. In order to maintain an internal balance such ions would require ions of other charge which they take from soil solution.

G.2. Active Absorption

The transport of ions with the aid of metabolic energy has been termed ACTIVE TRANSPORT. The active transport of an ion across an impermeable membrane is accomplished through the mediation of a carrier present in the membrane. Minerals ions like nitrates, phosphates, potassium etc. are already in higher concentration in cell sap. This high concentration is required for osmosis. Thus, these ions are carried against their concentration gradient into the cells by expanding metabolic energy in the form of ATP obtained from respiration.

Once the water is absorbed by the root hairs, it is translocated to various parts of the plant. The fluid that moves upward in the stem is not pure water. It is a dilute solution of mineral ions absorbed from the soil and is referred to as sap. The process of translocation of sap from the roots to the tap of the plant is called ASCENT OF SAP. OR The upward movement of water with dissolved minerals from the roots to the aerial parts of the plant through the stem is called ASCENT OF SAP.

H. Ascent of SAP

H.1. Path of Conduction of Water

The water is conducted upwards by tracheary elements of xylem i.e. tracheids and vessels. In young herbaceous plants almost all the tracheary elements participate in this process but in large woody trees the tracheary elements of only sap wood are functional. Following expt. shows that the ascent of sap takes place through tracheary elements.

H.1.1. Experiment to show that the water is conducted through the tracheary elements of Xylem.

Girdling or Ringing: It was first introduced by Malpighi. Stephen Hales was the first to prove by ringing experiment that xylem was sole path for ascent of sap from roots to the leaves. It consists of removing a ring of bark i.e. all the tissues outside vascular cambium including the vital vascular tissue of phloem. It is done as follows: 2 small twigs or branches are taken. Girdle, or a ring of bark is removed from one of these branches by a sharp knife. In the second twig, xylem is removed by careful manipulation without causing much injury to the bark, or the xylem is blocked with wax or grease.

Thus, the girdled part of the first twig contains only xylem and that of the second twig has all tissues except xylem. Both the twigs are placed in separate beakers containing water. After some time leaves on the first twig appear turgid while on the second twig with no xylem, the leaves droop. The leaves appear turgid in the first case because these continue to receive water in the presence of xylem. In the second twig, leaves wilt because there is no conduction of water due to absence or blocked xylem elements. Thus, this expt. shows that water is conducted through tracheary elements of Xylem.

A dilute solution of Eosin (red dye) is taken in a beaker in which a Balsam twig is placed. After some time the veins of the leaves appear red and some parts of stem becomes pink. A section of the stem or a petiole shows that only the xylem elements have taken the stain indicating that the solution (water) moves through xylem. It is thus estd that the water is conducted through tracheary elements of xylem i.e. trachea and vessels. These are dead cells with lignified secondary wall. The lumen of these elements allows an easy upward flow of water.

Expt. Showing path of ascent of sap using Eosin.

H.2. Mechanism of Ascent of SAP

To explain mechanism of Ascent of Sap various theories has been put forward like: 1). Root Pressure Theory 2). Capillary Theory 3). Transpirational Pull Theory

H.2.1. Root Pressure Theory

According to this theory, the root pressure developed in xylem vessels pushes up water to leaves and branches in herbs. This theory is not applicable in case of tall plants.

H.2.2. Capillary Theory

This theory explains that the xylem and tracheids occur in the form of thin capillaries, thus xylem capillaries apply a physical force which helps in ascent of sap. This theory may be possible up to some extent in small plants. The Ascent of Sap in tall plants is not possible by this force.

H.2.3. Transpirational Pull Theory

This theory was proposed by DIXON and JOLY (1894). Also termed as Cohesion-Tension Theory because of the main forces behind the ascent of sap are cohesion and tension of water molecules. The main characters of this theory are: 1). Continuous Water Column: A continuous column of water exists from root to leaves through stem mainly in tracheary elements. Even if a few tracheary elements get blocked, the other maintain the continuity of the column.

2). Cohesion: Water molecules stick together by a strong force of attraction called cohesion or cohesive force. This mutual attraction is due to the presence of H-bonds between adjacent water molecules. 3). Adhesion: Water molecules also stick to walls of Xylem vessels due to attraction. This is called adhesion or adhesive force. Cohesion and Adhesion ensures that the water column is not broken.

4). Development of Transpirational Pull: Mesophyll tissue is present in leaves. The intercellular spaces amongst mesophyll cells of leaves is always saturated with water vapour. These spaces come in contact with outside air through stomatal opening. Since the outside air is rarely saturated with water vapour. The vapour from the intercellular spaces diffuses out by Transpiration. The mesophyll cells then absorb moisture from deeper cells to overcome this loss of moisture. This creates the pull (tension) in the water column through stem to the roots. Since the column is continuous it is pulled up like a rope due to this tension. Thus, when water transpires from leaves it pulls the water molecules of the column upwards and water is able to rise up inside the plant. This pull is referred to as Transpirational pull.

Root pressure is absent in gymnosperms (some of the tallest trees are gymnosperms). Maximum root pressure recorded in plants is 2 to 3 bars which is sufficient to raise the water column to a height of 21 metre only.

Chapter 5. Transpiration

Water is absorbed by the plant roots from the soil. It is translocated through the tracheary elements of xylem to the leaves. Only small fraction of the total water absorbed from the soil is permanently retained by the plant. It is estimated that 5% of the water absorbed is used in metabolic reactions by an average plant and remaining 95% is released into the atmosphere as water vapour. This process of loss of water in the form of vapours from the aerial parts of the living plant is called TRANSPIRATION. Rate of transpiration is different for different plant e.g. sunflower transpires about 2 litres of water in a day. An apple tree transpires about 36-45 litres and a large Elm tree can transpire up to 1 tonne water by weight in a day.


Demonstration of Transpiration

Transpiration can be readily demonstrated by placing a well watered plant under a bell jar. The pot and the soil are covered with a polythene sheet, or aluminum foil so that no water can escape except through the plant. Soon the moisture collects on the inner surface of the bell jar. This moisture cannot be from the outer air of from the soil or pot since the bell jar is sealed with vaseline and the pot is covered by polythene. It is because the air inside the bell jar becomes saturated due to water vapours released by the plant and these get condensed and deposited on the inner surface of the jar. A bell jar without plant will not show drops of moisture under the same conditions.

Kinds of Transpiration
1. Cuticular Transpiration: Cuticle is present on the epidermis of leaves and herbaceous stem. The loss of water through the cuticle is known as Cuticular Transpiration. 2. Lenticular Transpiration: Lenticles are present in the bark of the stem. It consists of loosely arranged complementary cells. The loss of water through them is known as Lenticular Transpiration.

Cuticular transpiration

3. Stomatal Transpiration: It is the transpiration that occurs through the stomata. The epidermis of leaves and green stems have numerous stomata. These are responsible for about 80-90 % of the total water transpiration. This is also known as FOLIAR TRANSPIRATION because stomata are mainly present on leaves. Cuticular and lenticular transpiration together contribute only 3-10% of total transpirated water a significantly smaller amount when compened to stomatal transpiration.

Structure of Stomata

Str. of Stomata
Stomata are minute pores of elliptical shape surrounded by 2 specialized epidermal cells called guard cells. They are kidney shaped. The wall of the guard cells surrounding the pore is thick and inelastic but rest of the walls are thin. Each cell has a cytoplasmic lining, a central vacuole containing cell sap. The cytoplasm contains a nucleus and number of chloroplasts.

Str. of Transverse section of Stomata

Mechanism of Stomatal Opening and Closing

The opening and closing of stomata depends upon the turgidity of their guard cells. When guard cells are turgid, pores are open but when flaccid, the pores are closed. When turgidity increases, the outer thin walls of guard cells stretch outward causing outward stretching of their inner wall. The inner wall being inelastic becomes concave and as a result the space surrounding the pore widens and the pore opens. During the day, plants photosynthesize, and the guard cells of stoma are fully turgid and thus stomata is fully open.

Roots absorb water and it is translocated by xylem of the stem and distributed to leaves and all other aerial parts of the plant. The leaves consist of mesophyll cells. This water is supplied to the mesophyll cells of the leaves through xylem bundles which form the network of veins of the leaves. When leaves absorb radiant energy water is converted into water vapour and collect within intercellular spaces.

Mechanism of Transpiration

The intercellular space form a connected system extending up to sub stomatal cavity. When stomata remain open water vapours are diffused out of the leaf because its concentration is high in sub-stomatal cavity than the adjoining atmosphere. The vapours are formed in the first place from the thin film of water on outer surface of mesophyll cells of the leaves.

Stomata Upper v/s Lower Surface

A Dicotyledonous leaf always has many more stomata on its lower surface i.e. the ventral surface so the transpiration is always more on the lower surface.

Generally, stomata are open during the day and closed at night. But in succulents like cacti, opuntia, stomata close during the day and open at night. Fresh weight of plant or leaf would be maximum in the morning and minimum in the afternoon.

Demonstration of transpiration by cobalt chloride paper

2 filter papers are dipped in 5% cobalt chloride solution and dried. These papers are blue in colour. Now take 2 dry pieces of filter paper of equal size and fix each piece on either sides of a dorsiventral leaf of a potted plant. Keep the plant in light for some time. It is observed that the filter paper fixed on the lower side of the leaf turns pink first. This shows that transpiration is more from the lower side.

To measure the rate of transpiration by calcium chloride method

To compare the rate of cuticular and stomatal transpiration

It is an apparatus used to measure the rate of transpiration. Ganongs Potometer consists of a long graduated tube which is bent at right angle towards the lower side at one end. There is a small terminal opening at this end. At the other end is a wide mouthed tube into which a twig can be inserted. Near this end, long tube is connected with other wide mouthed tube with a stop-cock at its base. This is called water reservoir.

Ganongs Potometer

The potometer is filled with water. A twig is fixed in the wide-mouthed tube. The apparatus is made air tight. Now an air bubble is introduced in the graduated arm & the tip of the end is kept in a beaker filled with water. Note the initial position of the air bubble and time. Leave the whole apparatus for some time. Now note the final position of the air bubble in the graduated arm & time. Distance travelled by the air bubble in a given time will give the rough estimate of the rate of transpiration. This expt. is based on the assumption that the amount of water absorbed is almost equal to that of water transpired.

To measure the rate of transpiration using Ganongs Potometer

Simple Potometer

Simple potometer

To measure the rate of transpiration using Darwins Potometer

Darwins potometer works on the same principle as Ganongs Potometer but here the capillary tube is vertical. It consists of a glass tube with a side tube as shown fitted with rubber corks. The upper end of side tube has the plant inserted while the lower end of straight tube has a capillary tube with a fitted scale. The procedure is essentially the same. The twig is cut under water in a slant. An air bubble is introduced and its distance travelled noticed to get a rough estimate of the rate of transpiration.

Things kept in mind while using Potometer

It actually measures the rate of absorption of water. Most of this is transpired but some is used up in metabolic processes. So this gives a rough estimate not exact of transpiration. The air bubble should be introduced carefully in capillary tube. The twig should be cut under water so that no air goes into xylem vessels which might stop absorption.

Significance of Transpiration
1. It cases the conc. of leaf cell sap to rise. Cell in this condition will absorb water from their neighbours and even totally from the xylem vessels of leaf, then from stem and finally from root. So this transpiration stream is responsible for upward translocation of water. 2. Mineral salts absorbed with water are also distributed to various parts of the plant. 3. It increases the rate of water absorption because it concentrates the sap in the plants. 4. The rapid evaporation of water from the leaf surface and consequent absorption of latent heat from the leaf tissue keep the temperature of a leaf below harmful levels in the direct rays of the sun.




It evaporates excess of Due to excessive water. transpiration plants This process helps in start to wilt. ascent of sap. Transpiration creates It controls the body temperature of plant. water loss which may By this process, water and make the land a desert. minerals reach to the various parts of the plants.

Transpiration and Water Cycle

Transpiration also effects our climate. Such large quantities of water are transpired into the atmosphere that they actually play a role in the water cycle and cause rainfall. That is why deforestation can lead to droughts. We feel cool under a tree during summer season.

Factors affecting Transpiration

External Factors Internal factors

1. Light 2. Temperature 3. Humidity of the Air 4. Wind 5. Soil Water
1. Leaf Area 2. Thick Cuticle 3. Number of Stomata 4. Sunken Stomata 5. Presence of Hair 6. Leaf Modifications

External Factors
1. Light: It is an important factor. It affects the rate of transpiration in 2 ways. It controls the opening and closing of stomata and it increases the temperature. So with the increase in light intensity the rate of transpiration increases because the stomata get opened and the temperature increases.

2. Temperature: The increase in temperature results in increasing the rate of evaporation of water from cell surface & reduces the humidity of the atmosphere. So the rate of transpiration will increase. 3. Humidity in the Air: When the atmosphere is very humid, the rate of transpiration will be low because the difference in water vapour conc. in the sub-stomatal cavity & atmosphere is less. On the other hand, when air is dry this difference will be more & transpiration rate will be higher.

4. Wind: Transpiration gradually increases the water vapour conc. of the air so rate of transpiration gradually falls. However, when air is dispersed by wind then transpiration will increase again. Moving air currents continually bring fresh dry air in contact with leaf surfaces, so high rate of transpiration is maintained. 5. Soil Water: When soil water is sufficient then root absorbs water normally & transpiration rate is maintained. Deficiency of water in the soil decreases the rate of transpiration indirectly by decreasing the rate of water absorption.

Internal Factors
1. Leaf Area: Some plants have smaller leaf lamina to reduce transpiring area. Dense foliage also has a similar effect because of shading effect which keeps the temperature near stomata lower & inhibits rapid air movement. 2. Thick Cuticle: In many plants especially xerophytes, a thick cuticle layer is present outside epidermis. It reduces the rate of transpiration.

3. Number of Stomata: - Number of stomata in leaves affect the rate of transpiration. - If the number is more, the rate will be high, and if the number is less, the rate will be low.

4. Sunken Stomata: - Sometimes, leaves in stomata are sunk deep in the epidermis. - This reduces the air movement near stomata, thus decreasing rate of transpiration.

5. Presence of Hair: Hairs are present in Xerophytic leaves. These structures form a microenvironment around the leaf surface. When this is saturated with water vapour, the rate of transpiration decreases. Leaf Modifications: Sometimes leaves are modified into prickles spines etc. In some plants the leaves are scale like. Such modifications also serve the purpose of reducing transpiration.

6 Environmental Factors Affecting Transpiration

1. Relative humidity:- air inside leaf is saturated (RH=100%). The lower the relative humidity outside the leaf the faster the rate of transpiration as the gradient is steeper 2. Air Movement:- increase air movement increases the rate of transpiration as it moves the saturated air from around the leaf so the gradient is steeper. 3. Temperature:- increase in temperature increases the rate of transpiration as higher temperature Provides the latent heat of vaporisation Increases the kinetic energy so faster diffusion Warms the air so lowers the of the air, so gradient is steeper

4. Atmospheric pressure:- decrease in atmospheric pressure increases the rate of transpiration. 5. Water supply:- transpiration rate is lower if there is little water available as transpiration depends on the mesophyll cell walls being wet (dry cell walls have a lower ). When cells are flaccid the stomata close. 6. Light intensity :- greater light intensity increases the rate of transpiration because it causes the stomata to open, so increasing evaporation through the stomata.

Intrinsic Factors Affecting the Rate of Transpiration.

1. Leaf surface area 2. Thickness of epidermis and cuticle

3. Stomatal frequency
4. Stomatal size 5. Stomatal position

Difference between Transpiration

1. This is vital and physiological activity. 2. In this process, water evaporates from aerial parts of the plants. 3. Transpiration takes place by leaves and stomata.

1. This is a physical activity. 2. Water is evaporated from any surface. 3. Evaporation occurs without stomata.

4. This is restricted to living plants only.

4. Evaporation occurs from living and non-living bodies.

Plant growing in moist, warm soil and under humid conditions possess a specialized structure called HYDATHODES on tips and margins of leaves. Water escapes in liquid form at night and accumulates in drops at the ends of veins. This process is known as GUTTATION. Guttation generally occurs at night when transpiration has stopped & the rate of absorption is high.

Under these conditions, root pressure is maximum which forces the water upwards through the xylem elements & eventually exudes in the form of drops from hydathodes at the leaf margins. Guttation may also occur during day time if the plants are growing in moist & warm soils or in humid conditions, which increases root pressure. Guttation is very commonly observed from the tips & edges of leaves of grasses, wheat, rye, barley, nasturtium, Colocasia & tomato early in the morning after a moist & warm night.

The exudation of liquid from the cut or injured surface of plants, such as date palm and Palmyra palm is known as BLEEDING.

Difference between

1. The process starts from cuts found in plants. 2. More cell sap comes out in this process. 3. It happens due to pressure in sieve tubes.
4. Hydathodes do not take part in this process.

1. It occurs from edges of leaves. 2. Less cell sap comes out in this process. 3. It happens due to the pressure present in xylem. 4. Hydathodes take part in this process.

Chapter 6. Photosynthesis

Plants are the producers of FOOD

Green plants are autotrophic (prepare their own food). They 1st form simple carbohydrates (glucose) and later they form complex carbohydrates (starch) in presence of sunlight and chlorophyll, using H2O & CO2. This process is carried out in the presence of sunlight, thus is known as Photo-synthesis. Due to the above factors green plants are known as Producers. They utilize some part of the production in their biological activity & rest is stored. This stored food is directly or indirectly used by other living organisms.

It is anabolic process by which plants manufacture carbohydrates, or food material with the help of H2O & CO2 in presence of sunlight and chlorophyll. During this process, oxygen is liberated as a by-product. In photosynthesis, plant obtain H2O from the soil & CO2 from air. The process is represented as follows: 6CO2 + 12 H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O

Discovery of photosynthesis and its history

Aristotle: first to state that plants obtain their food by roots from soil. Stephen Hales(1727): leaves prepare food in presence of light. J. Priestly(1772): Proved that green plants purify polluted air (expted on rats and plants) J. Senebier(1788): first to state that green plants take CO2 and liberate O2 in presence of sunlight. He also showed the importance of H2O in photosynthesis. Blackman(1905): He proved that photosynthesis is not only a photochemical process but it is also a biochemical process.

Willstater and Stoll(1918): They explained the chemical composition and characteristics of chlorophyll. Hill(1937): He stated that O2 is liberated during photosynthesis by chlorophyll, water and sunlight in the presence of H-acceptor compound. He also stated that O2 is liberated from H2O and it is a light reaction. Robert Mayer(1948): He presented the law of conservation of energy and made clear that green plants absorb light energy and convert it into chemical energy.

Calvin and Benson (1967): They discovered dark reaction of photosynthesis and discovered pathway of Calvin Cycle stating that there are Catoms in first organic material, which was identified as 3 PGA (Phosphoglyceric Acid) Hatch and Slack(1967): They discovered another pathway of CO2 fixation in sugar cane, in which 4 C-compound (oxaloacetate) is the first stable organic compound instead of 3 C-compound (PGA). This pathway is found in members of grass family (monocots).

Photosynthetic organ: The LEAF

- In plants the green parts perform photosynthesis. Leaves are most suitable for this purpose. - They arise at the nodes of stem and appear green, flat and thin. - They are exposed to sun and specialized for the process of photosynthesis and transpiration.

Anatomy of a leaf
Anatomically, the leaf has outermost epidermal layers on both the surfaces which are covered with waxy cuticle. Between epidermal layers, palisade and spongy parenchyma are found which contains green plastids known as Chloroplasts. They together forms Mesophyll tissue. Mesophyll tissue = Palisade + Spongy (Parenchyma) The cells of palisade layer are elongated, with more chloroplasts, while spongy parenchyma contains almost spherical cells with less number of chloroplasts.

Photosynthetic Organ: The LEAF

Leaf Adaptations

2). 3).

They have broad, wide and flat surface to absorb light and CO2. Leaves has minute pores known as stomata on both surfaces to facilitate exchange of gases between the leaf and the atmosphere. Palisade tissues absorbs maximum sunlight as it is situated just below the epidermis and also because it contains abundant chloroplasts. There is a continuous supply of water and minerals in every cell through the extensive network of veins within the leaf lamina. It also helps in the translocation of food to the other parts of plant.

5). 6).-

The diffusion of CO2 becomes very easy in each and every cell because of the presence of large intercellular spaces inside the leaf. Each palisade cell has numerous chloroplasts. Water coming from the vein enters the cell by osmosis. CO2 from the atmosphere also diffuses into these cells. Chlorophyll pigments found inside chloroplast absorb sunlight. The oxygen is released into the atm. through the stomata.

Cellulose Cell Wall Cell Membrane


Chloroplasts Chloroplast (Containing Chlorophyll (containing Chlorophyll)

Vacuole Membrane


Nucleus Nucleus



Regulation of Stomata

The stomata are minute openings on leaf surface. They are bordered by guard cells which open or close according to their turgidity. They are kidney shaped so when they are turgid, the stomatal opening is wide open.

Opening of Stomata
During daytime the guard cells of stomata photosynthesize actively. Thus, the sugar produced in the cell increases osmotic pressure inside cell causing water to enter. It has been proved that due to photosynthesis guard cells indirectly absorb K+ ions from adjacent cells, increasing osmotic pressure inside. This results in bulging out of the outer thin walls and separation of guard cells from each other of the inner thick walls resulting in the opening of stomata.

Closing of Stomata
When water content in leaf becomes less the guard cells lose turgidity and become flaccid, closing the stomata.

Raw materials for Photosynthesis

CO2 & H2O are the main raw materials for photosynthesis. If these 2 substances are absent then plant will not survive as it cannot prepares its food. In culture solutions sugars can replace CO2 but H2O cannot be replaced. But in natural conditions there is no substitute for CO2 . H2O serves as the only source to provide H required for the reduction of CO2 to convert it into Carbohydrates.

Factors essential for Photosynthesis

1. Chlorophyll 2. Carbon dioxide 3. Water 4. Sunlight

1. Chlorophyll
Green colour pigment. They are Chlorophyll a, b, c etc. These pigments are contained in cell organelles called chloroplasts (a type of plastids). Chlorophyll is a highly complex, ring structure which is composed of C, H, O, N & Mg. Chlorophyll is present in the palisade cell and spongy parenchyma of the leaves, in the guard cells of stomata and the green stem cells of young plants.

Besides chlorophyll, higher plants also contain other photosynthetic pigments such as Carotene (orange), Xanthophyll (yellow), and Phaeophytin (grey). Exposure of plant parts to light induces the formation of chlorophyll. In some cases, even roots when exposed to sunlight become green and occasionally form shoot buds. Lack of sunlight impairs chlorophyll synthesis and plants lose their green colour. This condition is called ETIOLATION. Chlorophyll is sensitive to only a part of the visible light. This pigment is destroyed when it is exposed to bright light for a long period. The main function of this pigment is to get excited with light energy which results in ejection of an energy rich electron.

Site of Photosynthesis
Chloroplasts are the site of

Photosynthesis. Their number varies. Amt. of sunlight affects their size, smaller in bright light and larger in dark or dim light. The chloroplasts consist of folded membranes known as the LAMELLAE. When stacked at particular sites, they form dense structures called the GRANA. The GRANA are separated by a watery matrix called the STROMA. The lamellae appear as sacs known as THYLOKOIDS.

The Stroma are the site of enzymes responsible for the reduction of CO2 and formation of numerous starch grains which are formed by photosynthesis.

2. Carbon dioxide
The atmospheric CO2 enters the plant body through minute openings called the stomata which are present in very large numbers on the upper and lower surface of the leaves. CO2 simply diffuses into the cells.

3. Water
Its an important raw material for photosynthesis. Plant absorb H2O from the soil through their roots & root hairs. The H2O is then translocated up to the leaves through the stem by Xylem tissues present in roots & stems. Aquatic plants absorb H2O & minerals from their general body surface. Minerals absorbed along with H2O contribute to the process of photosynthesis, for example, Sulphates, Nitrates and Phosphates are required by the plants for converting the carbohydrates into proteins.

4. Sunlight
During daytime, the sunlight incident on leaves acts as the source of energy. Light energy is trapped by chlorophyll molecules in chloroplasts and the complex process of photosynthesis begins.

Mechanism of Photosynthesis

It is very complex & a number of reactions are involved. 2 phases ( Light Phase & Dark Phase) Light Phase is Light dependent (Light reaction / Photochemical Process) Dark Phase is Light independent (Dark reaction / Biosynthetic Phase)

Light Reaction
Also known as Hill Reaction. These reactions take place in the GRANA of Chloroplasts where chlorophyll containing THYLAKOIDS are present. Light reaction has 3 main steps.
1). Absorption of Light 2). Splitting of Water 3). Photophosphorylation

1. Absorption of Light
The chlorophyll molecules absorb the incident sunlight and become excited. As a result electrons of its molecules reach outer orbits. This is called activation of chlorophyll.

2. Splitting of Water
The energy of chlorophyll molecule is used in splitting the water molecule into Hydrogen and Oxygen. 2 electrons are also liberated. This is called photolysis of water. The process is 4H2O 4OH- + 4H+ 4OH-

The O2 is evolved. The H-ions are used to reduce NADP forming NADPH (Nicotinamide Adenosine Diphosphate). H+ + e- + NADP NADPH

2H2O + O2 + 4e-

The electrons are used for photo- phosphorylation.

3. Photophosphorylation
It is the process where energy liberated by photolysis of H2O (in form of electrons) is used to add a molecule of phosphate to ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) forming ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). ADP + Pi ATP (i) in Pi indicates inorganic Phosphate. ATP molecule formed here is an energy rich molecule. All physiological processes of cells obtain energy by converting ATP back to ADP. This is again converted to ATP by Photophosphorylation.

Dark Reaction
It takes place in STROMA of Chloroplast. These reactions are also known as Blackmans Reaction or Calvin Cycle. The term dark reaction means a reaction do not requires light. i.e. it does not means that it takes place in night. But it is light independent & occurs along with light reactions. The absorbed CO2 is fixed by combining it with H from NADPH by utilizing ATP energy. The end product is glucose.

The process takes place through intermediate reaction where intermediate products are converted ultimately leading to glucose. The most important of these compounds is RuBP (Ribulose bi-phosphate). The glucose is converted to starch for storage. END RESULT The overall process of photosynthesis can be summed up by following reaction. 6CO2 + 12H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O

Factors affecting Photosynthesis

1). Light:
Sun is the main source of energy. All living organisms are dependent on photosynthetic processes of plants and it occurs in the presence of light. Thus light is essential for photosynthesis and photosynthesis is maximum in red light followed by blue light and is least in green light. When the conc. of CO2 & Temp. are controlled at constant level, the rate of photosynthesis is directly proportional to light intensity up to a certain point.

This graph focuses on the maximum value at which increasing light intensity will increase the rate of photosynthesis. Once light intensity reaches approximately 38%, the rate of photosynthesis will not increase anymore. Values of light intensity that are tested after 38% will remain at one constant peak value.

2). CO2 :
It is a raw material used for photosynthesis. Plants take CO2 from atmosphere and transform it into Hexose sugar (glucose). Photosynthesis is increased by increasing CO2 to some extent. At very high light intensity, the rate of photosynthesis slows down because the pigment chlorophyll is damaged by u-v rays.

Sometimes photosynthesis is limited by the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. Even if there is plenty of light, a plant cannot photosynthesize if there is not a sufficient amount of carbon dioxide. If CO2 is added the graph will keep going up until about .10% CO2. At this point the graph will plateau out.

Photosynthesis involves many chemical reactions. All reactions takes place in a solution and H2O provides a medium for the reaction as well as it is one of the reactant in the process. It splits and gives H+ & e- to NADP & liberates O2. If water is not supplied, wilting occurs and leads to Stomatal closure which would affect photosynthesis by preventing the diffusion of CO2 into the leaves.

3). H2O:

4). Temperature:
Rate of photosynthesis increases with temperature increases till 350 C (highest photosynthesis). Till this peak is reached photosynthesis rate is doubled for every 100 C rise. The optimum temp for most of the plants are between 25o C 30o C. Above this temperature the rate of photosynthesis falls due to inactivation of enzymes involved. However, when the temp. is too high the photosynthetic enzyme are destroyed and so photosynthesis stops altogether.

If it gets too cold, the rate of photosynthesis will decrease. Plants cannot photosynthesise if it gets too hot.

Principle of Limiting Factors

The main factors affecting the rate of photosynthesis are Light intensity, CO2 content and temperature. These factors are not independent. Thus, whichever factor is lowest in content in the surroundings actually determines the rate of photosynthesis . This is called the principle of limiting factors (Blackman, 1905)

1). Chlorophyll:

Internal Factors

It is the most important pigment because it can absorb light energy which can be utilized for the formation of ATP and reduction of NADP.

2). Protoplasm:
Active protoplasm is essential for photosynthesis because chloroplast is the part of the protoplasm where the photosynthetic reactions takes place.

3). Leaf Anatomy:

Size, Structure, Position of stomata, number of chloroplasts in the leaf all affect rate of photosynthesis. Thickness of cuticle and size of leaf also plays an important role.

Importance of Photosynthesis
1). Source of Energy: Products of photosynthesis becomes the source of energy for all living organisms for both plants and animals. The oxidation of food produced by plants generates energy for biological activities. 2). Production of Food: Only plants are capable of producing food which is directly or indirectly consumed by all animals and humans. It also helps in the growth and development of plants. Plants transfers energy from one trophic level to the other trophic level.

3). Balancing of Atmospheric CO2 and O2: The combustion of Coal, oil, and other fuels releases CO2 in the atmosphere. Expiration of living beings also releases CO2 in the atmosphere. Photosynthesis requires CO2 which taken up from the atmosphere. Consequently the amount of CO2 does not increase too much in the atmosphere. CO2 is able to absorb solar heat. It retains in the atmosphere and is not allowed to escape. This is known as Green House Effect. It may lead to Global Warming. Photosynthesis enriches the atmosphere by supplying O2 which is used by living beings for respiration. Thus Green Plants maintain the balance between CO2 and O2.

To prove that O2 is evolved during photosynthesis

To demonstrate that STARCH is formed during photosynthesis
Materials Required: 1. Leafy plant 2. Black paper or foil 3. Alcohol 4. Iodine solution 5. Benzol Procedure: Take a healthy green leaf on a plant and cover a portion of it on both sides with two uniform pieces of black paper or foil, the previous evening so that the experiment is performed with a starch-free leaf or keep a healthy, green pot plant in a dark room for 1 or 2 days so that its leaves become starch-free, and then cover a portion of a leaf of this plant as above. Fix the pieces of paper or foil properly with clips. To make sure that there is no starch, collect a few neighbouring leaves in the morning, decolourize them with alcohol and dip them into iodine solution. Note that they do not turn black, thus all the leaves are starch-free. Now let the plant be exposed to light for some time, preferably till the evening and collect the leaf and decolourize it with alcohol. Place the blanched leaf in iodine solution for a minute. Observation: The exposed portion turns blue or black, showing the presence of starch in it. The screened portion, on the other hand, turns yellowish brown as no starch formed in it, the yellow color is due to the action of iodine solution on protoplasm and cellulose. It is better to place the iodine-treated leaf in benzol for a few minutes as benzol removes the brownish colour from the protoplasm and the cell-walls, and then the bluish-black colour of starch becomes clear.

To demonstrate that CO2 is necessary for photosynthesis

To demonstrate that Chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis

Carbon Cycle