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Illinois IGB


Art of Science Gallery 13



Art of Science image titled Hårkulla's Bloom
Hårkulla's Bloom

Scientist Collaborators Esther Ngumbi, Erinn Dady, and Aaron Mleziva

Esther Ngumbi Group

Canon EOS 5

This was under startup funds by the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign


The word “root” has countless meanings: it is a place where something can spring into being, it can be a mathematical concept or a linguistic one, it can refer to a part of a tooth, or it can be as simple as a plant organ that is hidden underground. Plant roots serve as anchors – they hold the body in place while making sure it absorbs enough water and dissolved minerals from the soil. However, even these sturdy structures are vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change.

Plants have several defenses in response to flooding events, which cause over 15% of global crop losses. These adaptations can include increasing the number of roots, changing the root structure, or using the air channels inside the roots to breathe. Through this root portrait, the artist wanted to highlight these hidden heroes that play such a vital role in plant growth. The image reminds us that even an understated arrangement can birth a galaxy of wonderful possibilites.