Delicate Root Hairs
Location: Outside U.S.
Date: Winter 2012-2013
Why are root hair of plants removed when they are transplanted? My book says 'During transplantation the root hair are removed,that is why, the plant remains wilted in the new habitat.'
The plant's root hairs are very delicate, so they can be lost (fall off) during transplanting:
So careful removal of the surrounding soil is recommended to avoid disturbing the root hairs as much as possible.
Anthony R. Brach, PhD
Harvard University Herbaria
Root hairs are primarily involved in the active uptake of water and nutrients. They are sticky and tend to bind to soil particles. When plants are "pulled" from their original medium, the delicate, fibrous root hairs are inadvertently stripped off in the process. The resulting plant then has little to no capacity for water and nutrient uptake after transplantation. This leads to symptoms reminiscent of water stress (wilting), even if the water status of the soil is optimal.
My family frequently uses transplants on our farm. To avoid transplant injury as much as possible, we use a pitchfork with short, thick prongs to loosen the soil. Basically we stab the soil straight down on both sides of the plants and then dig up underneath the root system. This loosens the soil so we can then pull plants "bare root", leaving the roots intact.
Dr. Tim Durham
Office of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
Florida Gulf Coast University
Thanks for the question. I am not sure why the root hairs are removed during transplantation of plants. Based on my personal experience, I would think that the transplantation process may cause the root hairs to be removed. It may take some time for the root hairs to regrow and the plant to thrive.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any more questions.
Root hair is an extended single celled structure that is almost invisible to the naked eye. It is very strongly attached with the soil particles and responsible for water absorption. When plant is removed it is broken and new root hair develop at the new site.
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