Mineral Nutrition is defined as the naturally occurring inorganic nutrient found in the soil and food that is essential for the proper functioning of animal and plant body. Minerals are vital elements necessary for the body. Both the plants and animals require minerals essentially. For example, Zinc is necessary for the manufacture of protein and for cell division.
Nutrients which are required by plants in very small amounts are termed as Micro Elements or macronutrients. Some of them include boron, copper, manganese, iron, chlorine, and molybdenum.
Nutrients which are required by plants in larger amounts are termed as Macronutrients. Some of them include sulphur, nitrogen, carbon, phosphorous, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Role of Nutrients
- Balancing function: Some salts or minerals act against the harmful effects of the other nutrients thus balancing each other.
- Maintenance of osmotic pressure: Several minerals cell sap is present in organic or inorganic form to regulate the organic pressure of the cell.
- Influencing the pH of the cell sap: Different anions and cations has an influence on the pH of the cell sap.
- Construction of the plant body: Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen are elements that help to construct the plant body by entering protoplasm and constitution of the wall.
- Catalysis of the biochemical reaction: Certain elements like zinc, magnesium, calcium and copper act as metallic catalysts in biochemical reactions.
- Effects of Toxicity: Certain minerals like arsenic and copper has a toxic effect on the protoplasm under specific conditions.
Functions of some of the Micronutrients are stated below:
- It is a component of oxidase, cytochrome oxidase, phenolases and ascorbic acid oxidase that is responsible for activating the enzymes.
- Copper plays a vital role in photophosphorylation.
- It also helps to balance carbohydrate-nitrogen regulation.
- It is necessary for photosynthesis during photolysis of water.
- The mineral is required for the synthesis of chlorophyll.
- It acts as an activator of nitrogen metabolism.
- It is essential for the synthesis of tryptophan, metabolism of carbohydrates and phosphorus.
- It is a constituent of enzymes like alcohol dehydrate-gas, carbonic anhydrase, lactic dehydrogenase, hexokinase, and carboxypeptidase.
Functions of certain macronutrients are stated below:
- Phosphorous boosts fruit ripening and root growth in a healthy manner by helping translocation of carbohydrates.
- They are found abundantly in fruits and seeds.
- Deficiency of Phosphorus leads to premature fall of leaves and they turn purplish or dark green in color.
- It is present in various coenzymes, hormones, and ATP etc.
- Nitrogen is a vital constituent of vitamins, nucleic acids, proteins and many others.
- Deficiency of nitrogen leads to the complete suppression of flowering and fruiting, impaired growth, and development of anthocyanin pigmentation in stems.
Potassium is the only monovalent cation that is necessary for plants. It acts as an enzyme activator including DNA polymerase. The deficiency of potassium leads to Mottled chlorosis.
From the above discussion, it would be stated that life would not sustain on the planet without the presence of mineral nutrition.
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