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Pulling water from the sky

In his blog, Nigel Chaffrey describes some new research which

“messes up anyone’s ‘linear teaching model’ where we tell our students that water travels unidirectionally – upwards – in the xylem”

In the cloud forests of Brazil, where the trees are almost constantly covered in fog, some plants have evolved the ability to absorb water through their leaves, move it down the xylem, and then release it into the soil. The plants are actually watering their own roots - and their own seedlings! This means the trees can survive and grow, even when the soil is dry.

At least 70 species, across seven different ecosystems, have been identified as using this ‘back-to-front’ water transport mechanism, pulling water out of the sky.

These new findings have important implications for our existing models of the climate and our ecosystems, which often consider soil water as the only source of water for plants.

Find and share

Blogs can be a great source of inspirational contexts, and they are generally not too technical! Search online for a useful blog, and share the link below. You might find a blog by an experienced biology teacher, or a biological association or publication.

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Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science

National STEM Learning Centre

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