Transport of Mineral Nutrients

The growth and development of plants solely depend on the available nutrients in the soil. Mainly plant roots absorb these essential nutrients and transport them to different parts of the plants for carrying out several functions. 

Mechanism of nutrient transport to plants follows certain ways for optimum absorption, depending on the soil types. Sixteen minerals are necessary for plant growth. Root hairs absorb thirteen of them. These minerals include nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, etc. These six essential minerals are called micronutrients. 

 Mineral Nutrients Transportation

Uptake of water and minerals by roots, reach to each portion of the plants in two methods. 

  1. Active Method

This mechanism of nutrient transport to plants happens with the help of the metabolic energy of plant cells. This process depends on the movement of ions from outer cells to inner cells and vice-versa. 

There are several methods through which mineral transport to plants. 

  • Root Interception- Soil particles are of different sizes, contain all the nutrients in them and form soil aggregators. But most plants cannot reach the large surface of soil aggregates. Roots grow around those aggregators and not in them. Therefore only a limited quantity of minerals can come in direct contact of root hairs. For this matter, root interception is not the most useful mechanism of nutrient transportation. 

  • Mass Flow- Plants lose water through leaves and the process is called transpiration. To compensate for the loss, roots take up water from the soil. Soil water usually consists of three negatively charged sulphate, nitrate and borate ions. Since roots cannot absorb soil waters completely, these mineral ions cannot reach the root. Therefore the quantity of these three nutrients that reaches the root surface through mass flow is variable. It is an essential mechanism of nutrient transport to plants. 

  • Diffusion- Plants physiologists proved that the root surface of plants is of lower concentration. The soil aggregators also combine a few positively charged nutrients like Ca++, K+, and Mg++. Also, the surface of soil aggregators is of higher concentration. Therefore these ions travel to roots through the process of diffusion. The uptake of mineral ions against the concentration gradient plays a vital role in plants. 

  1. Passive Method

This method of nutrient absorption takes place without the direct interference of metabolic energy. 

Phloem Transport

Apart from these two significant methods, there is also another method that helps to transport food and minerals from leaves to other parts of plants. After the synthesis of food in leaves, it takes the form of sucrose to travel to other cells through Phloem tissues. 

This transportation occurs from source to stick. Also, the movement of phloem transport is bidirectional. For example, in early spring, the food travels from roots to new buds in an upward direction. Minerals absorbed by roots move to the leaf through numerous pipe-like vessels. 

Importance of Mineral Nutrients

Both macro and micronutrients are equally essential for plants for the following reasons. 

  • Balance osmotic pressure.

  • Helps in chlorophyll production.

  • Enhances the quality of fruits and seeds. 

  • Boosts overall growth of plants.

  • Reduces the occurrence of plant diseases.

  • Balances pH level of root saps. 

  • Improves protein production.

  • Fastens root growth and fruit ripening. 

All the mechanism of nutrient transport to plants aids in maintaining the overall health of it. 

Multiple Choice Questions

1. Transport of food in high plants occur through

  1. Tracheids

  2. Transfusion tissue

  3. Sieve elements

  4. Companion cells

2. Which of the following requires ATP energy?

  1. Facilitated transport

  2. Active transport

  3. Simple diffusion

  4. All of these

Answers: 1-d), 2-b).      

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is mineral ion?

Mineral ion is electrically charged minerals which remain in the soil. The roots of a plant absorb them from soil moisture and distribute them to the other parts of plants.

2. Which mineral ions plants need?

Plants need mineral ions for healthy growth. This includes magnesium for chlorophyll production and nitrate to produce amino acids. 

3. When do plants absorb nutrients?

Plants primarily absorb nutrients at night. Studies show that during nighttimes plants absorb higher concentration of minerals. During day time, they absorb water.