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Studies have shown that increasing the root hair population increases the uptake of nutrients (e.g. phosphate) and water which enhances the plants ability to survive in stress environments; such as heat, drought, or nutrient deficient situations.
Plants grown under nutrient-poor conditions develop a higher density and longer hair cells. Roots can only absorb inorganic phosphates, present at very low concentrations in soil. This is why phosphate starvation is one of the most common nutrient stresses in plants, and is characterized by increased root hair length, increased root hair density, increased lateral root production branching away from primary roots, and upregulated secretion of acid phosphatases to produce inorganic phosphate from organic phosphate that can be subsequently absorbed by the plant. Testing has shown that overexpression of the targeted gene improves plant tolerance to phosphate starvation through a cascade of processes that results in increased phosphate uptake through changes in the root system.