HandsOn 20 - Building a Rhizotron and Germinating Seeds

A rhizotron is a clear-walled chamber through which one can observe roots as they grow. Here we describe two alternative methods for studying root growth with simple rhizotrons. Method 1 involves the use of the rhizotron with a stagnant solution such as water or nutrient mixture. Method 2 involves the use of the rhizotron in a tub of solution with a fish tank aerator providing oxygen to the solution. Several variations in the concentration of nutrient solution are possible in performing the root growth experiment.

In addition to the materials needed to build the rhizotron itself, you will need the following materials:

The seeds must be germinated before they are placed in the rhizotron. Germination allows the seeds to grow a large enough root system so that they can be supported by the top edges of the rhizotron. Otherwise, the seeds are too small to place on the rhizotron.

Method 1: Root Growth in Stagnant Solution

Method 2: Root Growth with Oxygen

For root growth with oxygen, you will be placing the rhizotron in a tub of water so that the solution may be aerated. This requires that you have sufficient passage of solution from the inside of the rhizotron to the outside.

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