Plants Deriving Own Nutrients Through Root Hairs

Most plants flourish based on the conditions of the environment around them and the soil’s richness that helps provide them with many nutrients and materials needed to survive through harsh conditions. A new, recent discovery of a shrub growing in the Rocky Mountains of Brazil is a perfect example of how plants are able to adapt to their surroundings based on what nutrients they need to attain. In many areas of Brazil, there are dry patches all over the landscaping, and these rocky and dehydrated areas contain many plants that outstretch their roots and attach them to the inside of rocks in order to obtain nutrients like phosphorus. But how does this occur exactly?

A plant named Barbacenia tomentosa, uses compact and dense hairs that are able to secrete acids that help to dissolve and dissociate rocks in order to get the nutrients it needs. The acid is able to dissolve the rocks and gather traces of phosphates from the rock that then allow the plant to produce the nutrient phosphorus that help synthesize proteins within the plant cells of the shrubs. Phosphorus also allows for the division of cells and development of new cell tissue. These roots, as proved in the Science News article, are only found in two herbaceous species around the world. The other plant is the B. macrantha which also has the same biological structure containing many small root hairs that dissolve quartzite rocks.

This evolution of certain plants can be seen all around the world as many plants living in poor phosphorus environments are beginning to develop roots that help them gather nutrients from soil and sand that help them survive longer in these environments. Many different species across the world have grown and adapted to many different environments, whether it be dry or plentiful with nutrients and water. Species like these two herbaceous plants have adapted overtime to be able to thrive in the dry environments of Brazil and Australia.

In  AP Biology this year, we have discussed the idea of natural selection and how species need to be able to grow and adapt in order to spread and grow into many generations and thrive in reproduction. Plants have always been well off over many other species because their cells are able to split and separate to form new cells and new offspring. But this cell division is monitored through the synthesis of proteins which can only occur if a plant is able to gain phosphorus through its surroundings like soil or sand. But as seen in this recent discovery many plants have found new ways to gain nutrients threw their own means of natural selection and adapting to their environment for the betterment of their species.

All around the globe there are examples and real life scenarios of natural selection and species adaptation over time, it is just a matter of where to look and the conditions of the environments.  Soon enough, all plants could be able to grow strong and dense roots that help them gain many different nutrients in order to prosper in harsh environments present in this enormous and intricate world.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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