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Root Structure and Function

Penetration of Soil Gravitropism Downward Growth Water and Mineral Intake Conduction (Xylem and Phloem) Storage of Materials Branching Anchorage

Zone of Maturation - cell differentiation

Protoderm Ground Meristem Provascular

Zone of Cell Elongation - cell expansion Notice how the growing zone has no root hairs or lateral roots! Growth among soil particles would result in shear forces. Zone of Cell Division - new cells by mitosis Root Cap - penetration, padding


Slough Cells

Root Tip Senses Gravity Auxin Hormone Produced Auxin Accumulates on Lower Growth Inhibited on Lower Relative to Upper Root Curves Downward

Water and Mineral Uptake

Root Hairs Increase Surface Area Root Hairs Secrete Acid (H+) H+ Cation Exchange w/Minerals Mineral Uptake into Roots

Radish seedlings have roots with long root hairs that increase the surface area for water and mineral uptake

1996 Norton Presentation Maker, W. W. Norton & Company

Osmosis: passive movement of water from pure to polluted area

cell membrane cell wall

water flow

cytoplasmic solutes more concentrated

Water potential low

soil solutes more dilute

Water potential high

Root hairs are responsible for cation exchange

cortex cell epidermal cell

root hair penetrates soil spaces

intercellular gas space

Ca2+Ca H 2+

soil particles covered with capillary water and minerals

to vascular cylinder



voids with air space


Dicot Mature Root Structure - Anatomy

Ranunculus acris - buttercup


Vascular Cylinder

What does all of this autumn color (leaf senescence) have to do with roots?

Root Vascular Cylinder and Cortex

Ranunculus acris - buttercup




Endarch: protoxylem is inside the metaxylem Exarch: protoxylem is outside the metaxylem




Specialized Versions

cortex phloem xylem



dicot root siphonostele

cortex phloem xylem pith

leaf gap

leaf trace

monocot root dicot stem


monocot stem

1996 Norton Presentation Maker, W. W. Norton & Company


endodermis xylem inside The endodermis is thus responsible for selective mineral uptake. cortex outside
minerals cannot go between cells minerals must go through cells

suberinwaxy barrier to apoplastic movement

cell membrane proteins (active transporters) determine which minerals may be taken up

Mineral uptake: Active transport against concentration gradient

cell membrane cell wall

ADP + Pi
Calcium transport protein

too expensive?




water flow
cytoplasmic solutes more concentrated
Water potential low

soil solutes more dilute

Water potential high

Osmosis: passive movement of water from pure to polluted area

Root Anatomy: Dicot Root Cross Section

Epidermis - root hairs, mineral and water intake

Cortex - storage, defense

Endodermis - selective mineral uptake
Casparian strips in radial walls

Pericycle - lateral root formation (periderm)

(Vascular Cambium - makes 2 tissues)

Phloem - CH2O delivery from leaves

Xylem - conduct water and mineral upwards One Vascular Cylinder (Phloem + (Cambium) + Xylem) Radial Xylem-Phloem Arrangement Exarch Xylem Maturation Tetrarch (this example)

Monocot Root Cross Section


Xylem/Phloem Arr? Xylem Maturation?



How is this section different?

Smilax - catbrier

A closer look What do these features tell you? Starch Cutin/Suberin Mitochondria

Sieve Tube Element Companion Cell Vessel with Lignin

Xylem Parenchyma

Lignified Pith Parenchyma

What is the Pericycle doing? Root Cap Growing out through cortex Zone of Cell Division

In fibrous root systems, there is much lateral root formation. Here you can see two root apices initiating from the pericycle. Notice their connection to the ridges of xylem

But shrubs also generally have some compromise for uprooting forcesfeeder roots extending laterally. In shrubs like this tea plant (Camellia sinensis), the root system will be more tap root than fibrous root. Notice the diameter of this tap root compared to this mans waist!

Tropical soils are nutrient poor.

Roots must traverse the surface for minerals, so roots grow on the surface (no tap root).

So, to keep this tall baobab tree standing upright, the roots grow in diameter but only in the vertical dimensions to form ridge rootscalled buttress roots.
so you can see these roots are a meter tall! These roots inspired gothic cathedral architects to design buttress walls.

Prop roots such as these inspired flying buttresses.

Pandanus utilis - screw pine

Avicennia germinans (black mangrove)