Lesson Media Objects
Transpiration - Water Movement through Plants
Transpiration - What and Why?
What is transpiration? In actively growing plants, water is continuously evaporating from the surface of leaf cells exposed to air. This water is replaced by additional absorption of water from the soil. Liquid water extends through the plant from the soil water to the leaf surface where it is converted from a liquid into a gas through the process of evaporation. The cohesive properties of water (hydrogen bonding between adjacent water molecules) allow the column of water to be ‘pulled’ up through the plant as water molecules are evaporating at the surfaces of leaf cells. This process has been termed the Cohesion Theory of Sap Ascent in plants.
Why do plants transpire?
Accessing nutrients from the soil: The water that enters the root contains dissolved nutrients vital to plant growth. It is thought that transpiration enhances nutrient uptake into plants.
Carbon dioxide entry: When a plant is transpiring, its stomata are open, allowing gas exchange between the atmosphere and the leaf. Open stomata allow water vapor to leave the leaf but also allow carbon dioxide (CO2) to enter. Carbon dioxide is needed for photosynthesis to operate. Unfortunately, much more water leaves the leaf than CO2 enters for three reasons:
Water uptake: Although only less than 5% of the water taken up by roots remains in the plant, that water is vital for plant structure and function. The water is important for driving biochemical processes, but also it creates turgor so that the plant can stand without bones.
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