14.2.3 Water and nutrient uptake by roots

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Temperature can influence water movement through plants in a number of ways. Major control relates to stomatal conduc-tance and transpirational demand for water, but temperature can also modify hydraulic conductance in the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum. Changes to root cortical tissue, endodermis and xylem elements of the central stele all contribute. Low temperature can reduce root permeability to water, effectly droughting shoots and causing leaves to wilt. Over time, water movement through roots may recover enough to restore shoot water relations even though the low temperature is maintained.

Although the initial movement of nutrients from the soil to the cortical tissue of the root involves water flow and diffusion the uptake and transfer of nutrients through the stele into the xylem is an active process and therefore temperature sensitive. Increasing root temperature favours nutrient uptake and shoot growth in a wide range of species.