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Plant roots

MRI of roots uncovers key to limits of plant growth

Friday, September 06, 2013 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: plant roots, limits, growth

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(NaturalNews) Over the past 15 years, a growing number of changes have been impacting the food choices people make. Contemporary culture's growing concern over issues such as diet-related health problems, produce quality, environmental impact, and the questionable techniques of large agricultural corporations has created a booming interest in urban and kitchen gardening.

From hanging tomatoes to sweet potatoes potted in 10-gallon pails, growing numbers of people are trying their hand at organic local food production. There are many reasons for this change. Many people want the assurance that the produce they're consuming is not one of the many unlabeled genetically modified organisms that now flood the food market. Others express concern about the environmental cost of shipping food supplies across the country. A growing number of people rely on their own produce to lessen the strain of their food bill while the global economy struggles.

Eyes beneath the ground

Luckily, researchers are looking into environmental factors that might affect the productivity of potted plants, and have reported some drastic findings. Using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers were able to study the way a plant's root system responds to being confined to a potted environment.

The results of the study were presented to the Society for Experimental Biology on June 30, 2012. They found that, as could be expected, a larger pot led to larger plants, but also found that the plants gauge the size of the pot before signaling the size limits to the growth commands of the plant. On the scans, plants were seen to send out roots that functioned as scouts. Roots did not simply grow to the limits of the pot and then stop. The first thing they did was map out the limits of the growth area with unbranching roots. When the pot size was doubled, the plants increased their size by more than 40 percent. They found also that plants, when kept in smaller pots, both grew, and photosynthesized more slowly.

One researcher noted that when the results came back, he immediately re-potted his own houseplants.

Pressuring plants to preform while restricting the degree to which their needs are met

As part of the study, they also conducted a meta-analysis of similar studies, and found across each of the 65 studies, this principle was true for large array of plant types, including the popularly home-grown tomato. A study representative noted that there has been, in the past, considerable effort put into minimizing the size of pots, for commercial reasons. However, growing attention is now being focused on optimizing meeting exceeding the needs of the plant, in order to identify the actual limits of the potential of the plants.

Sources for this article include

http://www.sciencecodex.com

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18612661

http://www.lfpress.com/homes/gardening/2012/06/06/19845866.html

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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