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7.4: Types of Root Systems

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  • Plants that have adapted to different environments might develop different root systems in response to the stressors in that environment. Observe the different root systems available in lab and try to classify them as one or more of the following:

    Netted or Taproot System

    In soils where water is readily available for most of the year, plants might develop a netted root system where many similar diameter roots capture as much water and nutrients as possible to outcompete their neighbors. In climates where there are droughts or freezes, plants might develop a taproot system, where a larger central root can burrow deeper into the soil profile, accessing water reserves that other plants cannot.

    Storage Roots

    A larger diameter root can also store water and/or sugars for long periods. This type of root is called a storage root. A large central root, such as in the middle left on the following page, could be both a taproot and a storage root.

    Adventitious Roots

    Adventitious roots emerge from stem tissue. This can happen when there is an underground stem, such as in the system at the top of the diagram on the following page, or to serve as a prop root, as in the center of the diagram.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Types of root systems

    In the figure above, label any adventitious roots, prop roots, and storage roots. Label each system as either netted or taproot (except the topmost root system, which is an underground stem).

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