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How do Trees Really lift Water to their Leaves?

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8 years 10 months ago #508 by Andrew
Dave:
quote:Yes even if its on top of something else! Take a look at the flow of dense rock pulled towards the Earths core

But that is because the thing the rock is sitting on is acting as a fluid (over the timescales involved anyway). From my experiments it doesn't matter how long I stand on the floor (from observation of wardrobes up to a period of a couple of hundred years) I am not going to fall through the floor.

quote:To state that solutes and sugars stay put and are not acted upon by gravity is absurd! How do we tap rubber, harvest amber and maple syrup?????? There is an obvious downward flow!!!!

Surely you say later that maple syrup is liquid flowing upwards (through the xylae) powered by Carbon di-oxide.

quote:And for every action there must be a reaction !!!!!

Indeed this is a fundamental part of physics, however this relates to forces not flows. Eg if I push the wall it pushes back, if the rocket pushes hot gas downwards the rocket gets pushed up, if the earth's gravity pulls something down then the earth gets pulled up slightly.

It doesn't necessarily relate to fluid motion in a tree - this is obviously the case as there is 50 times more fluid going up than down

here is an interesting link:
users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Phloem.html

The Phloem are at a positive pressure, even near the top of the plant - if they weren't aphids would have to suck the sap out, as it is even if just their mouthparts are left in the stem sap will come out. According to your theory the Phloem must be at a negative pressure (to pull the water up the xylem) so if there is a positive pressure there must be something else going on.

quote:"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."

There is a slight caveat to this, the explanation has to explain the observed phenomena - microscopically as well as on the large scale.

If I were a tree designer and I could come up with a way of absorbing carbon dioxide without loosing water I would try and design my tree using something like your principle, especially if I were designing my tree to work in arid conditions as you would avoid having to lift huge amounts of water just to get a few minerals. However if you look at a tree microscopically it isn't cosistent with the structures you find there.

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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #509 by Andrew
@ rosy

If the primary system for moving water up trees is this convection type system you're proposing, how do the sugars get *up* the trees to the ends of the branches for leaf formation in the spring? According to your model, if there aren't any leaves yet how does the flow get started and worse how does it draw more sugars (and amino acids and whatever else it needs) up than it drops down (which it must in order to construct new leaves)? It's got to use active transport in the phloem

.

Firstly, it is not a convection system. It is a flow and return system which operates when concentrations of denser solutes occur above less dense solutes due to evaporation.

In the spring, there is an initial temperature change, which initiates the flow and return system, causing the circulation inside the leafless tree to flow, and to generate both positive and negative pressures within the moving fluids as it goes.

sugar is produced and water is lost by evaporation from the leaves.
Sugars are transferred by (mainly passive) transport (depending on the concentrations) into the phloem. Given the sugars are already (since they're made in the leaves and moved to other parts of the plant) moving down a concentration gradient, there is no reason for more water to follow them across the cell.


Actually there is a very good reason for more water to follow, that being the cohesiveness of water molecules adhering to water molecules. This is precisely why I keep asking you to repeat the experiments.

Loss of water from the leaves results in water being drawn up from the roots via the xylae(osmosis).


Absolute nonsense, osmosis requires the belief that water can attract water up a tree and out through the leaves? I cannot see any logic in your argument here.

The sugars want to move to a position of lower energy/higher entropy (and so to places where there is less sugar already). There *is* an energy gain in going downwards, yes, but as Dave points out it isn't actually very big if you're losing a whole load of water at the top. Your Brixham experiment depends on using the weight of the water coming over the top of the loop to draw the water below it up. In order to produce any energy at all the salt/sugar solution has actually to move


Sorry, I disagree with you, the weight of the water in the opposing side is irrelevant, however, the density of the fluid in the opposing side can counterbalance the flow, much the same as overfeeding a plant can cause it to whither and die, or the same as acid rain can alter the density of the soil water by dissolving minerals too effectively.

This flow has nothing to do with the weight of the water in the opposing side of the loop. Let me try to clarify what is now known in relation to your argument. Picture a loop of tubing causing a slow but steady siphon effect. Now picture a small amount of saline solution injected into the top of the rising side of the siphon. Result: The coloured solution will flow in the opposite side to the siphon, and can be clearly seen in the turbulence of the coloured solution as it interacts with the clean solution. But the saline solution will not flow down without dragging on the water causing a two directional flow. I have seen this and you too can see it if you conduct the experiments for yourself!

which in your model it can't do unless the water which it pulls up follows it straight back down the opposite tube. Indeed, as was pointed out by EL Hemetis, there is before us the evidence of plants quite happily growing with their leaves below their roots. I'm far more convinced by the idea that that concentration effects dominate.


This flow system will always run in the path of least resistance, be it horizontal, down or up, it makes no difference. But somewhere within the plant or tree, there is a pathway for gravity to draw solutes down, be it in the branches, the trunk, or the roots.
Picture a u shaped branch on ivy, eventually roots will begin to form at the bottom of the u branch. In fact some of the tallest trees on earth have u shaped branches.

Gravity, Learn to live with it, because you can't live without it!
Last edit: 8 years 10 months ago by Andrew.

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8 years 10 months ago #510 by Andrew
Dave

Absolute nonsense, osmosis requires the belief that water can attract water up a tree and out through the leaves? I cannot see any logic in your argument here.


You may find this stuff interesting about osmosis
www.chaosscience.org.uk/pub/public_html/...ry=20050301222247333
and hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/kinetic/ospcal.html
has a nice program for calculating osmotic pressures

If evaporation keeps the concentration of the liquids in the leaf height, osmosis can generate the appropriate pressures to suck water out of the xylem, and the column of water in the xylem behaves like a wire (because it is cohesive) so if you pull at the top the whole column moves up, it all sounds consistent to me...

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8 years 10 months ago #512 by Andrew
Rosy:

Firstly, it is not a convection system. It is a flow and return system which operates when concentrations of denser solutes occur above less dense solutes due to evaporation.


Yes, OK... I know it's not really convection, but it's still a "water goes up, gets heavier, comes down" system. I was being lazy.

In the spring, there is an initial temperature change, which initiates the flow and return system, causing the circulation inside the leafless tree to flow, and to generate both positive and negative pressures within the moving fluids as it goes.


How???

Actually there is a very good reason for more water to follow, that being the cohesiveness of water molecules adhering to water molecules. This is precisely why I keep asking you to repeat the experiments.


I don't *think* this applies in the phloem. The water has to cross cell barriers, which it has to do by moving through pores which as I understand it would tend to disrupt the intermolecular forces holding water molecules together. The rules applying to tubes have to be looked at very carefully before we can apply them to the phloem cells which (as I keep saying) are split up by cell membranes. I don't have time to look up the (1st year undergrad cell biology textbook) information on this. I'm assuming you've looked at some texts at a higher level than GCSE, because although my biology mostly isn't up to much I do know that the GCSE chemistry syllabus is so much oversimplified as to be largely meaningless (I only ask because you quote so extensively from a GCSE text further up the thread).

Absolute nonsense, osmosis requires the belief that water can attract water up a tree and out through the leaves? I cannot see any logic in your argument here.


WHAT??????????
Of course water has to cohere in the xylae for osmaosis to work. The osmosis occurs at the cell membranes of the leaf cells there has to be a column of water sustained in the xylae the height of the tree. That relies on cohesion.

Sorry, I disagree with you, the weight of the water in the opposing side is irrelevant


Um, the weight of the solution is relevant. I know you don't accept it but what you've got there is fundamentally a syphon. Look up how syphons work and do the maths.

The coloured solution will flow in the opposite side to the siphon, and can be clearly seen in the turbulence of the coloured solution as it interacts with the clean solution.


You're introducing a coloured solution with a sideways velocity into a stream of water with a pre-existing velocity upwards. Sure you're going to see turbulance.
And, until the solution has largely diffused out into the rest of the water the water with the salt/dye in it will tend to go downwards, being denser than the water around it. That's all completely standard.
However, I would expect, if you add a significant quantity of salt solution that the rate of flow of water over the top of the loop to decrease measurable (you'd have to add the solution part way up the "up" tube rather than at the top or some of the solutes would be drawn over to the "down" tube and mess up the experiment before the system stabilised.

But somewhere within the plant or tree, there is a pathway for gravity to draw solutes down


Sure about that? I'm absolutely convinced I've seen plants in hanging baskets etc in which most of the leaves are below the basket and consequently below the roots.

This flow system will always run in the path of least resistance, be it horizontal, down or up, it makes no difference. But somewhere within the plant or tree, there is a pathway for gravity to draw solutes down,


So, like a syphon, then ;)
Only applies if the roots are, overall, above the leaves. As they aren't in hanging baskets.

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8 years 10 months ago #513 by Andrew
No not like a siphon at all, but I guess you will never know and have no inclination in exploring the experiments for yourself. What you have there is a fundamental flaw in your analogy of this beautifully simple flow and return system. There is an excellent attempt at explaining a siphon on the link below.
www.straightdope.com/columns/010105.html

Within my system, the two ends of a single tube can be pre-filled with water, and a small amount of saline solution added at one end of the tube, which is then joined together. Lift / elevate the saline contaminated end of the loop and the flow system works perfectly. If soft wall tube is used, the saline flows rapidly down causing that side to dilate and the opposing upward travelling side to be sucked in, indicating a negative and positive pressure caused by the action of gravity on the saline solution.
NOT, as in the siphon, pressures causing the flow. This is the flow causing the pressures and that is a monumental difference between the two methods.

RE Hanging baskets: Roots above the leaves. And leaves above leaves, it makes no difference where the roots are. Absolutely no difference to this system whatsoever, because as the stem bends over the basket, the loop still enjoys exactly the same forces from gravity.

“Tree Logic was created by Natalie Jeremijenko. It is made with 6
Flame Maple trees which have been hanging in MASS MoCA's Courtyard B.
Tree Logic at MASS MoCA was sponsored by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute will, over time, vividly demonstrate the obvious fact that plants grow toward the sun. Showing that trees are dynamic natural systems, and Tree Logic reveals this dynamism.”
www.fordfound.org/publications/ff_report...ges/03_sp_films1.jpg
The trees have been at Mass MoCA long enough that the branches have begun to turn and travel upward. The idea that Jeremijenko uses here in this exhibit is the idea of showing simple and obvious facts of life in biology in an extreme way.
Walker Metcalfe

I am surprised that you think that a mere cell wall, or pit, or an osmotic membrane for that matter could tear water apart. The bonding between water molecules is phenomenal, withstanding very high tensile stress. This force can easily pull water through the obstacles you mention.

Gravity, Learn to live with it, because you can't live without it!

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8 years 10 months ago #514 by Andrew
Thoroughly enjoyed the animations, which do not represent the movement of osmosis, having been exaggerated to stress a point, nevertheless, we are dealing with a non-living force, in very simple apparatus, so in the morning, I will set up a hundred metre example of this model, and we should see water flowing effortlessly out at the top of it.

But this would not fit with the xylem, as there is no concentration gradient in the xylem, where the water flows up. However, there is a concentration gradient in the phloem where the water flows predominantly down, sometimes horizontal and occasionally up (for Rosy’s benefit) J

Tell you what Dave, conduct the U experiment shown in the theory with salt solution one side and clean water the other, no membrane. Leave it stand for a week if you like suspended by both open ends and report back how much water has flowed out the top of either side of the tube.

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8 years 10 months ago #515 by Andrew
Dave:

Both a syphon and what you are describing work because one arm is heavier than the other

Both are analagous to a piece of rope over a single pulley - if one side has more weight on one rope it will move down. In your system the extra weight is caused by the extra density of the salt, in a conventional syphon this is produced by an extra length of water.

If water had no cohesion it will only work if the water is kept in compression by atmospheric pressure so neither system would work above 10m as the pressure would become negative. However with a very small clean tube you can produce a negative pressure at the top without it cavitating, due to the cohesion of water.

The cell membranes will not rip the water molecules apart, but they will stop the solutes form moving, and if the salt in your system can't move then your circulation will not happen.

What did you think about the links on osmosis?

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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #516 by Andrew
Sorry I started writing that last post before you did.

There doesn't have to be a concentration gradient within the xylem, you just have to have a concentration gradient between the xylem and the cells in the leaf.

What would be more analogous would be having a 10+m pipe with the top end covered with a partially permeable membrane and strong salt solution on the other side . It will be horribly slow as the surface area of the end of the tube is very small.
eg

It may actually be easier to see an effect if you just put dry salt on the membrane as then it will be more obvious if it is getting wet.

out of interest where are you getting the partially permeable membrane from in the morning?

Also if you want to produce a very large pressure difference you will have to support the membrane very well as over an appreciable area the pressure will build up to a large force and rip the membrane.

I will see if I can find some tube and try it out on a small scale to test the feasibility of it.

Gravity, Learn to live with it, because you can't live without it!
Last edit: 8 years 10 months ago by Andrew.

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8 years 10 months ago #517 by Andrew
@ Dave
Sorry, I was being sarcastic about trying it in the morning and you do not deserve it, and I appreciate your replies to my posts.

I really do know that it won't work, any more than a barometer will raise water above the 33-34 feet limit, water cannot be drawn that high by suction, using the most carefully maintained pump, let alone a semi-permeable membrane and some salt. We would both be on a hiding to nothing. It has long been known that there is a limit to the height that water can be drawn up using a capped ended tube. Get to 33 feet and the water simply tears away from the capped end of the water filled tube as it is raised above the reservoir, shown in your drawing. I have observed this many times. In fact, when the bead of water cavitates in the Brixham experiment, the water in both sides falls to the 33 feet limit, leaving vacuum above the limit and water below it.

If it were that simple, I would never have bothered to come up with a new theory.
The problem is that the membrane is also permeable to air, and the water will not rest in the tube. However, capillary action will work to a short distance using very fine tubes, however, to get it to raise to any appreciable heights, the capillary tubes used are often finer than those found in the xylem.

To my knowledge there is no working model other than mine that can demonstrate water circulating as effectively without a pump, not even a tree comes close. This is obviously due to a trees internal structure and the friction caused by it. Which incidentally must generate some heat, and is probably why many trees do not freeze in freezing temperatures.

Using dry salt on the membrane as you suggest may get wet, even if it is not in contact with the water, due to its ability to pull water from the air when it is in its dry state. Mangroves, leaves often show salts crystallized on them, but this is evidence of the evaporation and resultant salt build-ups.

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