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Plants Can Concentrate Water around Their Roots
from Ecology Action Staff

The following article presents the results of a study that appeared in the November 2011 issue of the scientific journal New Phytologist, titled "Three-dimensional visualization and quantification of water content in the rhizosphere" [Ahmad B. Moradi, Andrea Carminati, Doris Vetterlein, Peter Vontobel, Eberhard Lehmann, Ulrich Weller, Jan W. Hopmans, Hans-Jörg Vogel, Sascha E. Oswald. Volume 192, Issue 3, pages 653–663, November 2011 Article first published online: 8 AUG 2011]New Phytologist

An international team of researchers, led by a University of California, Davis, soil scientist, has for the first time demonstrated that the soil around plant roots contains more water than does soil in other areas.

The findings, which contradict earlier beliefs that soil in the immediate vicinity of the roots has less water, could potentially lead to development of more-drought-tolerant plants and more-efficient irrigation systems.

"Plants take water up from the ground by means of fine roots, a few millimeters in diameter," said Ahmad Moradi, a postdoctoral fellow in the UC Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources. "Their thicker roots serve more as pipelines, to relay the water. We want to understand the water distribution around these fine roots because this is the place where the roots remove water from their surrounding soil."

At the Paul Scherer Institute in Switzerland, the researchers used a method known as neutron tomography to create a precise three-dimensional image of water distribution around the plant roots and in other soil areas.

"It is probable that a gel-like substance that the roots exude is responsible (for concentrating water around roots)," said Andrea Carminati, a co-author. "This substance can absorb 10,000 times its own dry weight of water. In this way, plants could create an emergency supply for short periods."

The entire article can be read here:




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