Rhizoids: Definition & Function

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  • 0:01 Definition of Rhizoids
  • 0:40 Function of Rhizoids
  • 1:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Plants use their roots to take in water and minerals. If you have ever pulled a plant from the ground, you may not have noticed that its roots are made of many parts. In this lesson we will examine a critical part of roots known as rhizoids.

Definition of Rhizoids

Rhizoids are simple, hair-like projections that grow out of the epidermal cells of bryophytes. The term bryophyte refers to a group of plants that includes mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. All of these are nonvascular plants, or plants that don't have complex tissues for transporting water and nutrients.

Rhizoids are similar in structure to the root hairs found on more complex vascular plants. Rhizoids are formed from single cells, unlike roots, which are multicellular organs.

An image of moss.

Simple plants like this moss are examples of bryophytes with rhizoids.

Function of Rhizoids

A plant requires water to grow and survive. Some plants require more water than others. Biologists believe that the first plants all lived in water. This enabled them to directly absorb the water they needed from their environment. As time passed, plants evolved to live on land. This meant they adapted some system of absorbing water efficiently without actually living in the water. The first plants to make the move from an aquatic life to living on land were the bryophytes.

An image of hornwort.

This hornwort is an example of a bryophyte that uses rhizoids to absorb nutrients and water.

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