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Plant Transport

Moving water, minerals, and sugars

Vascular Tissue
Source and Sink
• Source: where
the sugar starts
its journey (either
where it is
produced or

• Sink: where sugar

ends up (either
where it is
needed or will be

• Xylem tissue
transports water
from roots to

• Xylem vessels
are dead at
• Phloem tissue
transports sap
(water and sugar)
from “source” to

• Phloem vessels
are live at
maturity, but
need companion
Water transport in 3 parts
• Transpiration (or evapo-
transpiration) is the transport of
water and minerals from roots to
leaves. It involves three basic
• Absorption at the roots.
• Capillary action in the xylem
• Evaporation at the leaf.
Part 1: Roots
• Roots absorb water and minerals in a
4-step process:
• Active transport of minerals into root
• Diffusion to the pericycle.
• Active transport into the vascular
• Diffusion into the xylem.
Mineral and water uptake
Casparian Strip
• The Casparian
strip controls
water movement
into the vascular
cylinder of the

• Water cannot
move between
cells. It must
move through the
cells by osmosis.
Microbial helpers
• Microbes in the
soil help plants
absorb nutrients:

• Mycorrhizal
fungi help
absorb minerals
by extending
the surface
area over which
minerals are
Microbial helpers
• Nitrogen-
fixing bacteria
in root
nodules help
plants acquire

• N-fixing
bacteria are
mostly with
legumes and
alder trees.
Step 2: Capillary action
• Cohesion: polar
water molecules
tend to stick
together with
hydrogen bonds.

• Adhesion: water
molecules tend to
stick to polar
Capillary action
• Cohesion and
adhesion cause
water to “crawl”
up narrow tubes.
The narrower the
tube the higher
the same mass of
water can climb.

• Maximum height:
32 feet.
Cohesion-tension theory
• Cohesion between water molecules creates a
“water chain” effect.

• As molecules are removed from the column

by evaporation in the leaf, more are drawn
Back to the roots...
• Pressure differences created by transpiration
draws water out of the roots and up the stems.

• This creates lower water pressure in the roots,

which draws in more water.
Part 3: Evaporation
• Evaporation at the surface of the leaf keeps the
water column moving.

• This is the strongest force involved in transpiration.

Stomata control
• Guard cells around
the stomata are
sensitive to light,
CO2, and water

• Cells expand in
response to light
and low CO2
levels, and
collapse in
response to water
• When stomata are open,
evaporation draws water out of the
leaf. Gas exchange can also occur
to keep photosynthesis and
respiration running.
• When stomata are closed,
evaporation cannot occur, nor can
gas exchange. Photosynthesis and
transpiration slow down.
Sugar Transport
The trouble with phloem
• Phloem tissue is
living tissue,
unlike xylem.
When scientists
studying how it
works cut into it,
the plants
responded by
plugging up the
Aphid helpers
• But aphids can
pierce phloem
tissue and suck
out sap without
any problem.

• Scientists used
aphids to study
the flow of sap in

• Sap consists of sugar dissolved in

water at high concentrations:
usually between 10% and 25%.
• Since this is highly concentrated,
plants have to use active transport
to work against a diffusion gradient
as part of the sap-moving process.
Pressure-flow theory
• The pressure-flow theory explains
how sap moves in a plant from
source to sink:
• Sugars begin at a source and are
pumped into phloem tube cells.
• Osmosis moves water into the
cells and raises pressure.
• Pressure moves the sap.
Pressure flow 1
• The leaf is a
source of sugar,
since it makes
sugar by
Glucose and
fructose made by
are linked to
make sucrose.
Pressure-flow 2

• Active transport
is used to load
sucrose into
phloem tubes
against a
Pressure-flow 3
• The high
concentration of
sucrose in the
sieve tube cells
of the phloem
causes water to
move in by
osmosis, which
raises pressure
and causes the
sap to move.
Pressure-flow 4
• A developing fruit is
one example of a
sink. Sucrose may be
actively transported
out of phloem into the
fruit cells. In a root,
sucrose is converted
into starch, which
keeps sugar moving
in by diffusion.
Pressure-flow 5

• As the sugar
drops in the sieve
tube cells,
osmosis moves
water out of the
Pressure-flow 6
• As water moves
out by osmosis,
the pressure in
the sieve tube
cells drops. The
difference along
the column of
sieve tube cells
keeps the sap
Pressure-flow: Review
Circulation of Blood
• The heart pymps oxygen-rich blood to the
brain and extremities and transports oxygen-
poor blood from the brain and extremities to
the lungs to gain oxygen.
• Blood from the body enters the right atrium,
moves into the right ventricle and is pushed
into the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. Then
blood travels back to the heart through the
pulmonary veins into the left atrium, to the
left ventricle and out to the body's tissues
through the aorta.