Measurement of porosity in very small samples of plant tissue

Eric Visser, G.M. Bogemann

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    72 Citations (Scopus)


    The relative volume of internal gas spaces (i.e., porosity) of the shoot and roots of a plant largely determines its resistance to flooding, as oxygen may diffuse through these cavities from non-flooded parts of the plant into the submerged tissues. The current techniques to measure porosity either need relatively large amounts of plant tissue (200 mg per sample), or are time-consuming and not sufficiently accurate for specific types of plant material. These limitations were the reason to develop a new method of porosity measurement. Small segments of roots were taken from freshly harvested plants, placed in a two-piece hard gelatin capsule and weighed on a microbalance. The root segments were subsequently infiltrated with water under vacuum, blotted carefully and weighed again. Using the increase in weight and the specific weight of infiltrated tissue, derived from a larger sample of roots, it was possible to calculate the porosity of individual root segments as small as 3-5 mg with a length of 5 mm. The new method combines this use of small samples with a high accuracy, and proved useful for a variety of plant species. Porosity data obtained with this method will improve our knowledge of small-scale processes such as aerenchyma development in root tips.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)81-90
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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