|Themes > Science > Botanical Sciences > Plants and their Structure > Roots Structure and Function|
..The Root Tip
..The Region of Elongation
..The Region of Differentiation
..Plants absorb their nutrients in inorganic form.
Water enters the root through the root hairs. These extensions of epidermal cells have sickly walls and adhere tightly to soil particles with their film of moisture.
Once within the epidermis, water passes through the cortex, mainly traveling between the cells. However, in order to enter the stele, it must pass through the cytoplasm of the cells of the endodermis.
Once within the stele, water is free again to move between cells as well as through them. In young roots, water enters directly into the xylem. In older roots, it may have to pass first through a band of phloem and cambium. It does so by traveling through horizontally-elongated cells, the xylem rays.
When you hear of the virtues of organic fertilizers, remember that such materials meet no nutritional need of the plant until their constituents have been degraded to inorganic forms. Organic matter does play an important role in making good soil texture, but only to the extent that it can yield inorganic ions can it meet the nutritional needs of the plant.
Once within the epidermis, inorganic ions pass inward from cell to cell, probably through plasmodesmata. The final step from the cytoplasm of the pericycle cells to the xylem is probably accomplished once again by active transport.
The older parts of roots are sheathed in layers of dead cork cells impregnated with a waxy, waterproof (and airproof) substance called suberin. This sheath reduces water loss but is as impervious to oxygen and carbon dioxide as it is to water.
However, the cork is perforated by nonsuberized pores called lenticels. These permit the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air and the living cells beneath.