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Environment - Seeing through soil

 

Recent droughts have drawn attention to the importance of water availability and management in agriculture and forestry, yet how plants absorb and distribute water is not well understood by scientists. ORNL researchers are working on ways to study how plants take up and move water through their roots, which has been difficult to do because roots are underground. The research team recently used a nondestructive technique called neutron imaging at ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor to track and measure water flux in live plant samples. "We can see the roots hydrate and watch how water moves within the roots under different environmental driving forces," said ORNL's Jeff Warren. "We've never been able to visualize this process." Data from the experiments will be used to improve root representation in climate models that could help farmers and foresters adapt to changing environmental conditions. The team's research is published in Plant and Soil. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308; mccorkleml@ornl.gov]

 -  Media Relations,  865.576.1946,  April 02, 2013
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