Importance of Micronutrients in Plants and Humans

The body requires nutrients to function properly. They look after our brain, skin, bones, muscles, nerves, and so on. Some nutrients are required in greater quantities and are referred to as macronutrients, while others are required in smaller quantities and are referred to as micronutrients.

What Exactly are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are nutrients that the body requires in smaller amounts for growth and development. They play an important role in the body’s metabolic activities. Vitamins and minerals are examples of these.

Because our bodies cannot produce vitamins and minerals, they must be obtained from food sources. Because the micronutrient content of each food varies, it is best to eat a variety of foods to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral consumption.

These micronutrients aid in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. However, they must be consumed in sufficient quantities: excessive or insufficient consumption results in a variety of disorders such as visual impairment, mental retardation, and so on.

Types of Micronutrients 

Micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, are classified as follows:

Water-soluble Vitamins 

The majority of vitamins can be dissolved in water. When consumed in large quantities, they are difficult to store in the body and are flushed out in urine. They play an important role in energy production. Because they are not stored in the body, it is critical to consume enough of them from various food sources.

Fat-soluble Vitamins 

These vitamins are not soluble in water. These are stored for future use in the liver and fatty tissues. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. They are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system, bone development, vision, and cell protection from damage.

Plant Micronutrients

Plants require seven essential micronutrients. Some nutrients regulate the permeability of a cell membrane, while others regulate osmotic pressure, buffer action, and so on.

Some of the most important micronutrients in plants are boron (B), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), and chlorine (Cl). A lack of any of these nutrients has an impact on growth and development.

Boron (B) 

Boron is found in tourmaline, a highly insoluble mineral, and is required for proper cell wall formation and strengthening. Boron is essential for flowering, fruiting, cell division, and pollen germination. Boron deficiency leads to decreased seed and grain production. Boron deficiency is most common during droughts.

Excess boron supply or availability is also harmful to the plant.

Zinc (Zn) 

Zinc is an essential element that aids in photosynthesis, energy production, and growth regulation. Zinc deficiency can cause slower maturation and a reduction in leaf size. During the cold, wet spring season, zinc deficiencies are common.

Manganese (Mn) 

Manganese is required for photosynthesis as well as nitrogen metabolism. Manganese deficiency causes premature leaf drop and delayed maturity. Manganese is abundant in wet soils, but it is scarce in dry soils.

Iron (Fe) 

Iron is required for energy transfer, nitrogen reduction, and nitrogen fixation. In the formation of other reactions, iron, along with sulfur, acts as a catalyst. Yellow leaves are an indication of iron deficiency.

Copper (Cu) 

Copper is required for proper photosynthesis, grain production, and cell wall strengthening. Copper deficiency causes stunted growth and yellow leaves. Many soils will be deficient in copper.

Molybdenum (Mo)

Molybdenum is in charge of pollen formation. It is also in charge of nitrogen fixation. Molybdenum deficiency causes reduced fruit or grain growth. Zinc deficiencies are found in sandy soils in humid environments.

Chlorine (Cl) 

Chlorine is a nutrient that aids osmosis and ionic balance. It also plays an important role in photosynthesis. Chlorine deficiency causes decreased resistance and decreased plant growth.

Micronutrient Deficiencies in Plants

The following are the symptoms of micronutrient deficiency in plants:

  1. Boron deficiency causes chlorosis, leaf deformation, and discoloration patches.
  2. Chlorosis, or leaf wilting, results from a lack of chlorine.
  3. Copper deficiency causes overall chlorosis, leaf tip twisting, and turgor loss in young leaves.
  4. A lack of iron causes chlorosis between the veins of new leaves.
  5. A lack of molybdenum causes chlorosis in the oldest leaves.
  6. A lack of manganese causes chlorosis between the veins of new leaves.
  7. Zinc deficiency causes younger leaves to grow at a slower rate than usual.

Micronutrient Deficiencies in Humans 

The following are examples of common micronutrient deficiencies in humans:

  1. Iron deficiency causes anemia.
  2. Iodine deficiency causes goitre and mental retardation.
  3. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, bone loss, and muscle weakness.
  4. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia and impaired brain function.
  5. Calcium deficiency causes osteoporosis.
  6. Vitamin A deficiency causes impaired vision and blindness.
  7. Magnesium deficiency causes muscle cramps and fatigue.

In summary,

Micronutrients are elements that we require in small amounts and they include iron, cobalt, chromium, iodine, copper, zinc, and molybdenum.

Any nutrient deficiency has an impact on growth and development.

Micronutrients in plants are beneficial for crop nutrition. All of a plant’s biological functions are supported by these.

Their absence causes stunted growth, chlorosis, necrosis, late maturation, and senescence.

Plant micronutrients actively bind to soil particles and are highly soluble in acidic conditions.