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Estefania Roldan

Block 3

Measuring the rate of transpiration by Impatiens plant when exposed to
different environmental factors



Transpiration is the loss of water (in a gaseous state) through the leaves and stems. Most of the
transpiration is through the leaves. It is really costly for plants to transpire because if there is a
low water supply, and the plant transpires a lot, then the plants cells will become flaccid. Most
of the transpiration occurs in the stomata, pores on the surface of the leaves. This is known as
stomatal transpiration. Stomatal transpiration has two processes: First, evaporation of water
from the cell wall surfaces bordering the intercellular spaces, or air spaces of the mesophyll
tissue. Second is diffusion of water into the atmosphere. As a conclusion, the stomata act as
pumps, which pull water and nutrients from the roots through the rest of the plant to the leaves
in a phenomenon known as transpirational pull.

By closing the stomata prevents the loss of water vapor from the leaf and prevents the entry of
carbon dioxide into the leaf. Photosynthesis and transpiration need to regulate, because
photosynthesis needs to open the stomata in order that carbon dioxide enters the plant, but at
the same time it has the dilemma of letting water molecules evaporate. Transpiration occurs
during photosynthesis when the stomata open for the passage of carbon dioxide gas. Carbon
dioxide is a necessary component of photosynthesis that the plant must get from their
environment. Water transported to the leaves is converted to a gas. As carbon dioxide is
allowed into the leaf, water vapors escape through evaporation to the atmosphere. Plants lack
membranes that are permeable to carbon dioxide and impermeable to water making
transpiration an inevitable consequence of photosynthesis. (Lecture 3: Transpiration)

Plants lose less water in humid conditions. Air currents - a breeze cools your skin on a hot day
because it blows away the water vapor that has accumulated near the skin surfaces, and so
accelerates the rate of evaporation the same as plants. In dry climates transpiration increases
because water diffuses more rapidly into the air due to the concentration difference between the
environments outside and the plant. Low humidity creates a vapor gradient between the plant
and the air. In dry air, there is no water, forcing water to be pulled out from the plant to the
atmosphere increasing transpiration. Remember, that water molecules move from higher to
lower concentrations. Therefore, in humid climates, transpiration is less effected by diffusion.
The plant must have a continuous supply of water to be able to transpire. If adequate water
cannot be absorbed by the roots and carried up the xylem, the rate of transpiration will
decrease. In other words, you need water to transpire, and if you have none, then you wont be
able to maintain homeostasis.


What are the effects in the rate of transpiration of Impatiens plant caused by different
environmental factors?


: If I change the environmental conditions then the rate of transpiration will not seem
affected in the plant.

Experimental H: If I expose my plant to hotter temperatures, then the transpiration rate will
increase because hot water molecules will be released into the air, so that the plant can cool
down its system, by the evaporating cooling process.

Alternative H: If I change the environmental conditions then the rate of transpiration will
affect seem affected in the plant.


Manipulated variable Responding
Constants Control
- Environmental factors
affecting transpiration
Trial 1: Mist
received by the
Trial 2: Amount
of temperature
(light) received
by the plant with
an obstacle
between light
bulb and the plant
(less increase of
Trial 3: Amount
of temperature
(light) received
by the plant
without an
obstacle between
light bulb and the
plant (more
increase of
Trial 4: Amount
of wind

Rate of
measurement of
water in pipette
- Amount of water
inside potometer
- Room temperature
- Distance between
factor and plant (30
- Temperature of
water (22C)
- Diagonal cut on
the plants stem
- Type of plant:
- Stabilizing time
(10 min)
- Time between
every measurement
(3 min)
- Same person
records the
- Method to
calculate surface
area (square paper)
- Type of water
(from tap)

Potometer with the
plant with no
exposure to any
factor and normal
# Of trials: 2


10 O.1mL Calibrated Pipettes
1 Impatiens plant with leaves
5 Ring stand
5 Shallow water trays
5 Clamps
5 Syringes
5 Clear plastic tubing (16 inch)
1 jar of Petroleum jelly
Tap water (around 2 liters for each)
5 Knives
5 Chronometers
1 Bag
1 Water spray
1 Fan
1 light bulb
1 Fish tank filled completely with water
Grid Paper


Part 1: General setup:

1. Fill a plastic tray with water. In it, place the tube and one calibrated pipette, so that they
fill with water.
2. The tube and the pipette should not have any air bubbles inside of it, so take the syringe
full of water and place it on one of the ends of the tube. Slowly pour water in it, so that
air bubbles get out.
3. Repeat the same thing with the pipette.
4. Place the pipette inside one end of the tube. Remember to take out all the bubbles.
5. Choose a branch with big leaves, and cut it. Immediately place it under water.
6. Make a cut of 45 in the stem, so that it fits into the end of the tube.
7. When everything is placed, and without air bubbles, carefully take out the potometer,
and place it in the clamps, to form a U shape. Do not let any air bubbles come in, white
doing this.
8. With the syringe and water to the end of the pipette, so that the pipette is full of it.
9. To the end of the pipette, attach the other pipette with the transparent tape, so that you
can have measurement marks.
10. To prevent water from leaking, add petroleum jelly around the stem of the plant until no
water is leaking.
11. Let the plants stabilize during 10 minutes.
12. After 10 minutes, every 3 minutes see how much water it has been displaced for 30 min.
13. Keep track of the water absorbed for 30 minutes.

Specific set up for each variable

Control: It should be present in room temperature. Let stabilize the plant for 10 minutes.
Light Bulb: Place the potometer 30 cm. away from the light bulb. Let stabilize the plant for 10
Light Bulb with Obstacle: Place a fish tank full of water in front of the light bulb. Put the
potometer 30 cm. away from the fish tank. The order of the items should be, light bulb, fish
tank and potometer. Let stabilize the plant for 10 minutes.
Mist: Place a plastic bag around the plant and constantly spray water inside of it. Let stabilize
the plant for 10 minutes.

Part 2: Surface Area:

1. After the 30 min, dissemble the potometer and separate the leaves from the stem.
2. Place the leaves on the grid paper and trace them.
3. Record all units for each leave
4. Add all the results, in order to have the surface area of all the leaves.
5. To the total, divide it by 10,000, so that you convert cm
into m



Table 1: Amount of water absorbed by the plant during 30 min. depending to which
environmental factor it was exposed.

Time (min.)

Treatment 0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30

Control 0.000 0.002 0.003 0.003 0.004 0.004 0.004 0.005 0.005 0.005 0.006
Light no
obs. 0.000 0.004 0.006 0.009 0.014 0.017 0.024 0.033 0.037 0.046 0.055

Light 0.000 0.005 0.006 0.007 0.008 0.009 0.011 0.012 0.015 0.019 0.021

Fan 0.000 0.003 0.010 0.015 0.021 0.029 0.034 0.040 0.048 0.052 0.059

Mist 0.000 0.008 0.008 0.009 0.009 0.009 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.011 0.011

Table 2: Surface Area of Leaves

Treatment Surface Area
Control 0.003500
Light no obs. 0.009500
Light with obs. 0.004600
Fan 0.007500
Mist 0.007100

Table 3: Rate of transpiration (mL/m
) of Impatiens plant during 30 min. depending to which
environmental factor it is exposed

Time (min.)
t 0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
Control 0.00 0.57 0.71 0.86 1.14 1.14 1.14 1.43 1.43 1.43 1.71
Light no
obs. 0.00 0.42 0.63 0.95 1.47 1.79 2.53 3.47 3.89 4.84 55.79

Light 0.00 1.09 1.30 1.52 1.74 1.96 2.39 2.61 3.26 4.13 4.57
Fan 0.00 0.40 1.33 2.00 2.80 3.87 4.53 5.33 6.40 6.93 7.87
Mist 0.00 1.13 1.13 1.27 1.27 1.27 1.41 1.41 1.41 1.55 1.55


The graph shows us how the rate of transpiration increases as time passes. In the x-axis
we have time, in minutes, and in the y-axis we have rate of transpiration, mL/m
. The plant
with the highest transpiration was the fan, which increased almost constantly by the same rate.
After 30 minutes it reached 7.87 mL/m
. The second plant with the highest transpiration rate
was the one exposed to light with no obstacle. We can notice in the graph that there are two
lines that depict the rate for light. One line, the red, is for light with no obstacle, and the green
is for the light with obstacle. If we compare both, we can conclude that the obstacle does
decrease the rate of transpiration dramatically, in this case by 1.22 mL/m
. This leaves the plant
exposed to light with an obstacle in the third place. Fourth is the control variable, which wasnt
exposed to any environmental factor. This line means how a plant will normally transpire at
22C. This line is important because it enables us to compare the reactions towards different
environmental factors with the normal transpiration rate. Finally, the plant that transpired the
least after 30 minutes was the one exposed to the mist. Even though at minute 3 mist had the
most transpiration, it became stagnant, increasing each time by a lower rate. The control
variable had almost the same rate of transpiration as mist, but at the end of the 30 minutes, the
control variable has a slightly bigger transpiration. To recap all of the information, we can
deduce that the environmental factor that had the most transpiration is the fan, while mist
caused the least.


The purpose of this experiment was to understand how different environmental factors that
simulate different scenarios can affect the transpiration rate of plants, in this case Impatiens.
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30




Time (min.)
Rate of transpiration (mL/m
) of Impatiens plant during 30
min. depending to which environmental factor it is exposed
Light with no Obstacle
Light with Obstacle

Our manipulated variables simulated humid, hot, or windy scenarios. We also placed a control
group, which wasnt exposed to any manipulated variable. It represented the normal
transpiration of Impatiens plant, to which we will compare later.

The major findings were that the greater transpiration rate of Impatiens is reached when it is
exposed to a windy scenario. Instead, the least transpiration rate is when it is exposed to a
humid environment. The environmental factor that caused most transpiration, as already
mentioned, was wind, ending up after the 30 minutes with a rate of 7.87 mL/m
. Then came the
plant exposed to light with no obstacle, because this caused an increase in temperature. It
reached 5.79mL/m
. Then, the light with obstacle did increase the temperature, but no that
much, causing the plant to have a lower rate of transpiration, 4.57 mL/m
. Then we have the
control group, which ended up with a rate of 1.71mL/m
. Finally, the plant with least
transpiration is the one exposed to a humid environment, which ended up with 1.55 mL/m

My results support my hypothesis. The plant exposed to the light bulb, meaning that it
experienced an increase in temperature, was the second plant with the highest rate of
transpiration. This can be explained due to the process of evaporating cooling. The hot water
molecules that are inside the plant make the plants internal temperature increase. In order to
maintain homeostasis, the plant opens its stomata and as an effect, hot molecules of water in
gaseous state are released into the air. Due to the property of water, cohesion, water molecules
are covalently bonded to each other, creating a big chain of water molecules flowing from the
roots to the leaves. As one water molecule is released into the air, the other water molecules are
pulled, and so on. This means that if the water molecules are evaporated into the air at a higher
rate, more water molecules are going to be pulled upwards into the stomata. The main objective
of evaporation is to maintain the temperature in which the plant can work at its optimal point.

My results are similar to other findings. My experiment supported higher temperatures
increasing the rate of transpiration, and does the same experiments from other sources. Books
predicted that higher temperatures will make the stomata open, releasing water molecules into
the atmosphere, and the same happened in my study. Many sources explain, that evaporation is
made for maintaining homeostasis and an internal temperature for keeping up with mechanical
and chemical processes, and my experiment demonstrated that because the temperature
increased, the rate of transpiration also increased as a process to maintain homeostasis.

Some errors that might affect our data are the way we calculated surface area. Because the
leaves do not have a symmetric and precise shape, it was really hard to determine its exact
surface area, therefore we estimated. This could cause a change in the rate we calculated.
Another error could be small air bubbles in the potometer, which might get into the xylem.
Also, one should be careful of not clotting the plants xylem with petroleum jelly; otherwise,
this wont let the plant absorb any water.

Finally, for further study I recommend to do different environmental factors, so that we can
have a broader idea of how transpiration acts according to its surroundings. Also, one can do
the same experiment, but changing the type of plant that has bigger leaves. This will help us see
greater changes in water absorption, and it will be easier to determine the surface area of the
leaves. If one is interested in how temperature affects to transpiration, you can place a plant
with the potometer into a cold atmosphere, so that you can compare a hot, climate, and cold
temperature. Different species of plants transpire differently, so you need to test a lot of
samples in order to have a bigger picture of how transpiration works when exposed to different
environmental factors.


Lecture 3: Transpiration (n.d) Transpiration. Retrieved: May 20, 2014 from:

USGS (2014) Transpiration The water Cycle. Retrieved: May 20, 2014 from: