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General model for osmotic and pressure-induced flow in plant roots

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  • Biological Sciences: Botany
  • Physics


This paper presents a general model to describe coupled solute and water flow through plant roots when they are subjected to osmotic or hydrostatic pressure gradients, or both simultaneously. The model is based on well-established membrane transport equations derived from irreversible thermodynamic considerations. A variety of experimentally observed phenomena such as changes in root resistance with flow rate, apparent negative resistance effects, xylem sap dilution, and apparent non-osmotic water transport can be adequately explained with this model. The model also predicts that an exuding excised root system will be very insensitive to changes in the hydraulic conductivity coefficient. Previous work with a flat membrane of unit surface area and uniform properties is confirmed for a cylindrical coordinate system of nonuniform characteristics.

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