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Modes of Absorption and Conduction of Water and Minerals

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

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. 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. 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 semipermeable 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.