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Discuss the usefulness and limitations of anatomical studies when attempting to understand transport systems in plants.

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Discuss the usefulness and limitations of anatomical studies when attempting to understand transport systems in plants. The study of plant anatomy is the study of the plant cells, tissues and the structure of the plant as a whole. This is crucial in understanding how transport in plants works because without the knowledge of how the plant is built and what constitutes the different parts of the plant, scientists would not be able to visualize the organization within the plant and come up with viable deductions about the mechanisms of plant transport. However, anatomical studies alone would not be able to provide enough information about the mechanisms of plant anatomy. Processes involving the selective transport of materials and the chemical changes that take place within plant cells require studies in the chemistry of the plant as well as its anatomy. Before we understand how water and minerals can be absorbed by the plant and transported to the leaves and everywhere else, we must first be equipped with the knowledge of plant anatomy. With the knowledge that the root is covered with tiny root hairs, we can deduce that this is for increasing the surface area of absorption for efficiency. ...read more.


The cell membrane not only selects mineral ions but also screens out undesirable pathogens. Furthermore, it is difficult to understand just by looking at plant anatomy how minerals can diffuse into the cells from a lower concentration in the soil solution. In actual fact, scientists have deduced that ATP activated pumps on the cell membranes use energy to pump in ions and prevent the outward diffusion of ions and other valuable metabolites. By anatomically studying the xylem vessel, we would know that it lacks protoplasm and forms a long continuous hollow tube from the roots to the leaves of a plant. Thus the water and minerals may flow easily through (apoplastic pathway). Since the xylem is long and continuous, we find it easier to understand how water may be pulled up the vessel in a long continuous stream by the adhesion-cohesion theory and transpirational pull. To understand the mechanism of the transpirational pull, we must look at the anatomy of the leaf. The mesophyll cells in the spongy mesophyll layer contain many intercellular spaces between them through which water vapour/moisture can readily diffuse through to reach the guard cell. ...read more.


Also, scientists discovered a significant accumulation of potassium ions and malate in guard cells before the opening of stomata, and that a plant growth regulator, abscisic acid, causes stomatal closure (by suppressing the ability of guard cells to retain potassium ions). Thus they came up with another hypothesis, one that says the accumulation of postassium and malate ions in the guard cell lowers its water potential and causes water to enter and make the cell turgid. All of the above deductions have little to do with plant anatomy as the structure of the plant tells one little about the reactions or processes occurring within a cell itself. Thus, based on the information provided above, I think that while plant anatomy is essential in mainly identifying pathways of plant transport and perhaps helping in the understanding of the plant transport systems in this way, it cannot be used alone to help us truly see what goes on within the plant and why. Studies of the interactions between cells and ions, and of the chemical processes that occur within cells, will probably fill us in on much more information pertaining to transport in plants, and allow us to have a fuller understanding of it. Vera 2S03C ...read more.

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