Highbush blueberry. Used with permission from Daniel Ahlqvist.

Nutrient Acquisition

PhotosynthesisPhotosynthesis. Image courtesy of Daniel Mayer.

Vaccinium corymbosum is a photoautotrophic plant; it produces its nutrients via photosynthesis.  In photosynthesis, the energy of the sun is converted to chemical energy stored as sugars.  This all happens in the leaves of the highbush blueberry.  Photosynthesis consists of  two generals stages: the light reactions and the Calvin cycle.

In the light reactions, sunlight is converted to chemical energy (ATP and NADPH).  Water is split during the light reactions, releasing oxygen that other organisms use for respiration.

The Calvin cycle uses the energy created by the light reactions to convert carbon dioxide into glucose and other organic compounds that the plant can metabolize for energy.

After nutrients are produced in the leaves, they must travel to the other cells in the plant for nutrition and to the roots for storage.  This transport is accomplished by the phloem.  Blueberries also have xylem, which function to transport water from the roots to the rest of the plant.


The roots of Vaccinium corymbosum are involved in a symbiotic relationship with fungi.  This type of relationship is known as mycorrhizae.  The symbiosis is mutualistic, meaning both organisms benefit from the relationship and neither is harmed.  The fungi involved in this relationship is of the Glomeromycota phylum, meaning that it grows inside of the root cells.  The hyphae of the fungi extends from the roots into the soil about 2.5 centimeters, acting like a root hair.  The fungi provides increased surface area of the root for nutrient intake.  In return, the highbush blueberry supplies the fungi with carbohydrates and sugars.


Learn more about the roots and other structures by going to the Anatomy and Life Cycle page!

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