Plants take up water from roots and for efficient absorption they need maximum surface area and thatâ€™s why the roots of some plants have branched fibrous roots and some of the plants have a tap root with wide branching.
Moreover, the presence of root hairs in higher provides more surface area and increases the rate of absorption. Plants absorb water in two ways: Active and Passive absorption.
Active absorption utilizes ATP to absorb water. Active absorption can occur in two ways (osmotic and non-osmotic).
Passive absorption does not spend ATP rather it makes use of metabolic transpiration, therefore the rate of transpiration is directly proportional to the rate of absorption.
Structure of root hair:
Plant roots as mentioned earlier have some kind of slender, unicellular extensions which are termed as â€œroot hairsâ€. Structurally root comprises of a root cap, meristematic tissue, and elongation zone and on the top, the root hairs arise and are often referred to as root hair zone. Among all the parts of the root, the root hair zone is highly permeable to water thereby aids inefficient water absorption.
Root hairs arise or outgrow from the piliferous layer. The root hair is made up of a double-layered cell membrane with pectin on the outside and cellulose on the inside.
Also, they comprise root cells, a nucleus, and a cell sap.
A cytoplasm that is selectively permeable to a few substances.
The root hairs are placed deep inside the soil, therefore the soil particles aggregate or clump around the root hairs carrying water molecules and are absorbed by root hairs are diffused deeper into the roots.
Water taken up by the root hairs is a result of diffusion and the rate of water is regulated by unique water channels referred to as â€œAquaporinsâ€. The main plant vasculature assisting in water distribution to the entire plant is xylem and water is not directly accessible to xylem, therefore before xylem water travels via all the root parts by the means of different pathways; symplastic and apoplastic.
1. Symplastic pathway (transport through cells):
Symplast is a multinucleated part that is present inside the plasma membrane and facilitates the free movement of water and other solutes. The word symplast was coined by â€œPriestlyâ€ in 1949
The symplastic system in a plant is made of interconnected protoplasts and the cells are connected via â€œplasmodesmataâ€.
Plasmodesmata are set of very small microscopic channels that run in between the adjacent or neighboring cells. This structure is made up of a cell wall, callose, plasma membrane, endoplasmic reticulum, and desmoubule.
A symplast is known as the living part of a plant that is devoid of the cell wall and intercellular spaces.
In a symplastic pathway, initially, water is absorbed from the soil which is then allowed to enter cell sap following this water moves along from one cell to the other. Overall the water movement is observed between the cytoplasm and vacuoles via plasma membrane and plasmodesmata.
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