Plant World

Plant Structure and Function

Is there a relationship between the size of the root system and the size of the shoot system?

Growing plants maintain a balance between the size of the root system (the surface area available for the absorption of water and minerals) and the shoot system (the photosynthesizing surface). The total water- and mineral-absorbing surface area in young seedlings usually far exceeds the photosynthesizing surface area. As the plant ages, the root-to-shoot ratio decreases. Additionally, if the root system is damaged, reducing the water- and mineral-absorbing surface area, shoot growth is reduced by lack of water, minerals, and root-produced hormones. Similarly, reducing the size of the shoot system limits root growth by decreasing the availability of carbohydrates and shoot-produced hormones to the roots.


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