Q.12:- Describe transpiration pull model of water transport in plants. What are the factors influencing transpiration? How is it useful to plants?
Transpiration pull or cohesion-tension theory was originally proposed by Dixon and Joly in 1894 and further improved by Dixon in 1914. According to this theory, a continuous
column of water is present in the xylem channels of plant. The continuity of water column is maintained in the plant because of cohesive force of water molecules. There is another force of adhesion which holds water tp the walls of xylem vessels. During transpiration in plants, water is lost, in form of water vapour, from the mesophyll cells to exterior, through stomata. As a result, the turgor pressure of these cells decreases and the diffusion pressure deficit (DPD) increases. Now these cells take water from adjoining cells and the turgor of those adjoining cells decreases. This process is repeated and ultimately water is absorbed from nearest xylem vessels of leaf. As there is a continuous water column inside the xylem elements, a tension or pull is transmitted down and finally transmitted to root, resulting in the upward movement of water.
Factors affecting transpiration include both environmental and internal factors. Environmental factors:
(i) Relative humidity – The rate of transpiration is inversely proportional to the relative humidity, i.e., the rate of transpiration is higher when the relative humidity is lower and lower when the relative humidity is higher.
(ii)Atmospheric temperature – A high temperature opens stomata even in darkness. Besides producing a heating effect, it lowers the relative humidity of the air and increases vapour pressure inside transpiring organ. Consequently, rate of transpiration increases.
(iii)Light – Because most of the transpiration occurs through stomata, the rate of transpiration is quite high is light. It falls down appreciably in the darkness.
(iv)Air movements – Transpiration is lower in the still air because water vapours accumulate around the transpiring organs and reduce the DPD of the air. The movement of the air increases the rate of transpiration by removing the saturated air around the leaves.
(v) Atmospheric pressure – Low atmospheric pressure enhances evaporation, produces air currents and increases the rate of transpiration.
(vi)Availability of water – The rate of transpiration depends upon the rate of absorption of soil water by roots. This is further influenced by a number of soil factors like soil water, soil particles, soil temperature, soil air, etc.
Internal or plant factors :
(i) Leaf area (transpiring area) – A plant with large leaf area will show more transpiration than another plant with less leaf area.
(ii)Leaf structure – Leaf structure affects transpiration in following ways:
(a) Cuticular transpiration decreases with the thickness of cuticle and cutinisation of epidermal walls.
(b) Because most of the transpiration takes place through the stomata, their number and position influences the rate of transpiration.
(c) The sunken stomata are device to reduce the rate of transpiration by providing an area where little air movement occurs.
(iii)Root/shoot ratio – A low root/shoot ratio decreases the rate of transpiration while a high ratio increases the rate of transpiration.
(iv)Mucilage and solutes – They decrease the rate of transpiration by holding water tenaciously.
Transpiration is useful to plants in the following ways:
(i) Removal of excess water – It has been held that plants absorb far more amount of water than is actually required by them. Transpiration, therefore, removes the excess of water.
(ii)Root system – Transpiration helps in better development of root system which is required for support and absorption of mineral salts.
(iii)Quality of fruits – The ash and sugar content of the fruit increases with the increase in transpiration.
(iv)Temperature maintenance – Transpiration prevents overheating of leaves. However, plants growing in areas where transpiration is meagre do not show over¬heating. Some succulents can endure a temperature of 60°C without any apparent damage.
(v)Pole in ascent of sap and turgidity – Ascent of sap mostly occurs due to transpiration pull exerted by transpiration of water. This pull is important in the absorption of water. Further, transpiration maintains the shape and structure of plant parts by keeping cells turgid.
(vi)Distribution of mineral salts- Mineral are mostly distributed by rising column of sap.
(vii)Photosynthesis – Transpiration supplies water for photosynthesis.