Plant and Soil

, Volume 253, Issue 1, pp 81–90

Measurement of porosity in very small samples of plant tissue


    • Department of Experimental Plant EcologyUniversity of Nijmegen
  • Gerard M. Bögemann
    • Department of Experimental Plant EcologyUniversity of Nijmegen

DOI: 10.1023/A:1024560322835

Cite this article as:
Visser, E.J. & Bögemann, G.M. Plant and Soil (2003) 253: 81. doi:10.1023/A:1024560322835


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.

aerenchymamethodmicrobalanceporosityrootswetland plants

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003