11.6 Phloem Transport : Flow From Source to Sink

Food, primarily sucrose, is transported by the vascular tissue phloem from a source to a sink. Usually the source is understood to be that part of the plant which synthesises the food, i.e., the leaf, and sink, the part that needs or stores the food.

But, the source and sink may be reversed depending on the season, or the plant’s needs. Sugar stored in roots may be mobilised to become a source of food in the early spring when the buds of trees, act as sink; they need energy for growth and development of the photosynthetic apparatus.

Since the source-sink relationship is variable, the direction of movement in the phloem can be upwards or downwards, i.e., bi-directional. This contrasts with that of the xylem where the movement is always unidirectional, i.e., upwards.

Hence, unlike one-way flow of water in transpiration, food in phloem sap can be transported in any required direction so long as there is a source of sugar and a sink able to use, store or remove the sugar.

Phloem sap is mainly water and sucrose, but other sugars, hormones and amino acids are also transported or translocated through phloem.

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