GCSE level biology: Plant transport systems, leaf structure, nutrients and gas exchange

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The organisation of plant cells into tissues and organs - their structure and function in the context of transport systems

Doc Brown's biology exam revision study notes on leaf structure-adaptations, the transport and gas exchange in plants and absorption of nutrients - importance and deficiency problems, potometer - measuring rates of transpiration experiments.  This page will help you answer questions such as ...  How does gas exchange take place in plants?   How does a plant absorb mineral nutrients?   How does a plant transport minerals around in itself?

Sub-index for this section on transport systems in plants

(1) Types of plant cells and their organisation into tissues and organs

(2) Flowering plant transport systems structure, function of plant xylem and phloem cells

(3) Structure and function of roots, absorption and necessity of nutrients, osmosis experiment

(4) The importance of minerals to plants - need for absorption of nutrients through the roots - investigating minerals and plants, effect of mineral deficiencies, relevance of fertilisers

(5) More on leaf adaptations to aid photosynthesis and gas exchanges and factors affecting the rate of transpiration and the function of the stomata and guard cells

(6) An experiment to investigate the rate of transpiration - using a potometer

See also Diffusion, osmosis, transport and active transport

and detailed notes on photosynthesis


Practical investigations you might have encountered and learning objectives

  • investigating potato slices in different concentrations of liquid in terms of mass gain and mass loss - this is to illustrate the process of osmosis.

  • designing an investigation to measure the mass change of potato when placed in a series of molarities of sucrose solution

  • investigating the relationship between concentrations of sugar solution and change in length of potato strips

  • placing shelled eggs in different concentrations of liquid to observe the effect

  • placing slices of fresh beetroot in different concentrations of liquid to observe the effect, and then taking thin slices to observe the cells

  • observing guard cells and stomata using nail varnish

  • observing water loss from plants by placing in a plastic bag with cobalt chloride paper.

  • investigating flow rate in xylem using celery, which can include calculation of flow rate

  • investigate the content of artificial phloem and xylem given knowledge of the appropriate tests

  • planning an investigation using a potometer to measure the effect of temperature or wind speed on the transpiration rate.

  • You should know that plant organs include stems, roots and leaves.

    • Details of the internal structure are only needed for the leaf.

    • Know the structure and function of palisade cells and guard cells in plants.

    • Palisade cells contain chlorophyll and are adapted for photosynthesis.

    • Guard cells are adapted to open and close the pores which allow gas exchange and water evaporation.

  • You should know examples of plant tissues including:

    • epidermal tissues, the outer layers which cover the whole plant,

    • mesophyll, between two epidermis layers, where most photosynthesis happens,

    • xylem and phloem, which transport substances around the plant eg sugars like sucrose and glucose, minerals and water.

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General PLANT BIOLOGY revision notes

Photosynthesis, importance explained, limiting factors affecting rate, leaf adaptations

Plant cells, transport, gas exchange in plants, transpiration, absorption of nutrients, leaf & root structure

See also Diffusion, osmosis, active transport, exchange of substances - examples fully explained

Respiration - aerobic and anaerobic in plants (and animals) 

Hormone control of plant growth and uses of plant hormones 

Plant diseases and defences against pathogens and pests 

See also Adaptations, lots explained including plant examples 

and a section on Stem cells and uses - meristems in plants


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