THE ROOT

NCERT 11TH STANDARD BIOLOGY – THE ROOT

In majority of the dicotyledonous plants, the direct elongation of the radical leads to the formation of primary root which grows inside the soil. It bears lateral roots of several orders that are referred to as secondary, tertiary, etc. roots. The primary roots and its branches constitute the tap root system, as seen in the mustard plant.

In monocotyledonous plants, the primary root is short lived and is replaced by a large number of roots. These roots originate from the base of the stem and constitute the fibrous root system, as seen in the wheat plant. In some plants, like grass, Monstera and the banyan tree, roots arise from parts of the plant other than the radicle and are called adventitious roots.

The main functions of the root system are absorption of water and minerals from the soil, providing a proper anchorage to the plant parts, storing reserve food material and synthesis of plant growth regulators.

Regions of the Root

The root is covered at the apex by a thimble-like structure called the root cap. It protects the tender apex of the root as it makes its way through the soil. A few millimetres above the root cap is the region of meristematic activity. The cells of this region are very small, thin-walled and with dense protoplasm. They divide repeatedly.

The cells proximal to this region undergo rapid elongation and enlargement and are responsible for the growth of the root in length. This region is called the region of elongation. The cells of the elongation zone gradually differentiate and mature.

Hence, this zone, proximal to region of elongation, is called the region of maturation. From this region some of the epidermal cells form very fine and delicate, thread-like structures called root hairs. These root hairs absorb water and minerals from the soil.

Modifications of Root

Roots in some plants change their shape and structure and become modified to perform functions other than absorption and conduction of water and minerals. They are modified for support, storage of food and respiration.

Tap roots of carrot, turnip and adventitious roots of sweet potato, get swollen and store food. Can you give some more such examples? Have you ever wondered what those hanging structures that support a banyan tree are? These are called prop roots. Similarly, the stems of maize and sugarcane have supporting roots coming out of the lower nodes of the stem. These are called stilt roots.

In some plants such as Rhizophora growing in swampy areas, many roots come out of the ground and grow vertically upwards. Such roots, called pneumatophores, help to get oxygen for respiration.

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