Transport of Water & Mineral Ions in Plants (OCR Gateway GCSE Biology: Combined Science)

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The Plant Root

  • The roots, stem and leaves form a plant organ system for the transport of substances around the plant
  • Plant roots are adapted to maximise absorption of water and mineral ions from the surrounding soil
    • Many epidermal cells in the root have 'hair-like' extensions that project into the soil
    • Roots contain millions of these 'hairs' to increase the surface area for absorption

Structure of the root, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

The structure of a root specifically allows it to maximise absorption of water by osmosis and mineral ions by active transport

Root hair cells

  • Root hair cells are adapted for the efficient uptake of water (by osmosis) and mineral ions (by active transport)
  • Root hairs are single-celled extensions of epidermis cells in the root
  • They are long and thin so they can penetrate between soil particles and absorb water and minerals from the soil
  • Root hairs increase the surface area to volume ratio which increases the uptake of water and mineral ions
  • The high proportion of dissolved minerals and sugars in the cytoplasm (of the root hair cell) gives it a low water potential
    • As soil water has a higher water potential than the cytoplasm, water moves into the root hair cell by osmosis
  • Mineral ions move into the root hair cells by active transport as the concentration of mineral ions in the soil is usually much lower than in the root hair cells
    • They need to move into the cell against the concentration gradient which requires energy

Root Hair Cell, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

A root hair cell

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Author: Phil

Phil has a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham, followed by an MBA from Manchester Business School. He has 15 years of teaching and tutoring experience, teaching Biology in schools before becoming director of a growing tuition agency. He has also examined Biology for one of the leading UK exam boards. Phil has a particular passion for empowering students to overcome their fear of numbers in a scientific context.