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1,000 archived images reveal how root systems of plants fuel soil health

Washington Post – “What’s in a plant? Humans admire them, eat them and rely on them for oxygen release, carbon sequestration, animal habitat and more. But a plant is more than meets the eye. Beneath the soil, its root system can extend inches or even feet, spidering into the earth and fueling soil health. An archival collection of over 1,000 images of root systems reveals the hidden world of plants. It’s the work of Austrian botanist Lore Kutschera and other researchers at the Plant Sociological Institute in Austria. Over the course of 40 years, they collaborated on an enormous “root atlas” that maps the underground trajectories of common European plants, from Acanthosicyos horridus, a melon, to zygophyllum, flowering plants. The images are online thanks to Wageningen University & Research, a Dutch university known for its agricultural programs. They show the surprising extent of the roots of plants such as Carlina acaulis, also known as the dwarf carline thistle. The seemingly small plant nestles close to the ground. But underneath, its roots can go as deep as four feet…” [Respect Nature]

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