[Plant-education] plant biology-plant "feeding" question

Jensen, Douglas via plant-ed%40net.bio.net (by Doug.Jensen At Converse.edu)
Fri Nov 17 10:19:37 EST 2006

Kristen et al.,

I go with the second person's suggestion that although roots may absorb
sugars, it is insignificant for typical plants.  At the moment, I would
hesitate to even mention the possibility in middle school.  I think the
black and white general rules will be better at that stage, and the more
interesting gray areas can come up later.

I do have an issue with the "food" part.  Plants do absorb nutrients
(building materials) through their roots, and this fits with the
definition of food.  They just don't absorb the energy to use those
nutrients through their roots.  

That's my 2 cents for now.

Douglas P. Jensen
Assistant Professor and Chair of Biology
Converse College
Spartanburg, South Carolina, 29302
douglas.jensen At converse.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: plant-ed-bounces At oat.bio.indiana.edu
[mailto:plant-ed-bounces At oat.bio.indiana.edu] On Behalf Of Kristen
Sent: Friday, November 17, 2006 8:22 AM
To: plant-ed At magpie.bio.indiana.edu
Subject: [Plant-education] plant biology-plant "feeding" question

Hi All,

We've got two plant biologists on staff, and there is some dissent
between them regarding a question that has been posed, so I'm looking to
you for a "vote." Specifically, our work involves expanding upon or
clarifying the middle school benchmarks from AAAS' Project 2061's
Benchmarks for Science Literacy for the purposes of instruction and
assessment. That's the background, so you have an idea of why I'm asking
this question.
The point with which we're dealing involves the idea that plants make
their own food (in contrast to animals) and that in most cases this is
their only source of food. Food is defined as something that is a source
of building materials for growth and maintenance and of energy. We have
one staff member who insists that some plants take in sugars through
their roots and wants to include it in the work, and one staff member
who thinks that while this is possible (I think that they're thinking
mycoheterotrophs), it is not a significant source of food for plants and
will only serve to reinforce the widely held misconception that plants
take in food through their roots. I'd love some input from you so that
we can move forward with this. Any thoughts?

Thanks for your help.
Kristen Lennon

Kristen A. Lennon, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Project 2061
American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20005 USA

E-mail: klennon At aaas.org

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