AQA A Level Biology

Revision Notes

3.6.3 Potometer Practical

Apparatus & Techniques: Using a Potometer

  • Air movement, humidity, temperature and light intensity all have an effect on the rate at which transpiration occurs
  • The table below explains how these four factors affect the rate of transpiration when they are all high; the opposite effect would be observed if they were low

Transpiration Rate Factors Table

Transpiration factors table, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

  • A potometer can be used to investigate the effect of environmental factors on the rate of transpiration


  • Plant shoot
  • Cutting board
  • Scalpel/scissors
  • Paper towels
  • Potometer
  • Volume scale
  • Beaker
  • Capillary tube
  • Stopwatch
  • Vaseline


  • Cut a shoot underwater
    • This is done to prevent air from entering the xylem
  •  Place the shoot in the tube
  • Set up the apparatus as shown in the diagram
  • Make sure it is airtight, using vaseline to seal any gaps
    • If air enters the apparatus the readings will be affected
  • Dry the leaves of the shoot
    • Any moisture present on the leaves will affect the rate of transpiration
  • Remove the capillary tube from the beaker of water to allow a single air bubble to form and place the tube back into the water
  • Set up the environmental factor you are investigating
  • Allow the plant to adapt to the new environment for 5 minutes
  • Record the starting location of the air bubble
  • Leave for a set period of time
  • Record the end location of the air bubble
  • Change the light intensity or wind speed or level of humidity or temperature (only one – whichever factor is being investigated)
  • Reset the bubble by opening the tap below the reservoir
  • Repeat the experiment
  • The further the bubble travels in the same time period, the faster transpiration is occurring and vice versa

Investigating transpiration rates using a potometer, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Investigating transpiration rates using a potometer

Environmental factors can be investigated in the following ways:

  • Airflow: Set up a fan or hairdryer
  • Humidity: Spray water in a plastic bag and wrap around the plant
  • Light intensity: Change the distance of a light source from the plant
  • Temperature: Temperature of room (cold room or warm room)

Exam Tip

Remember when designing an investigation to ensure a fair test you must keep all factors the same other than the one you are investigating.

Author: Lára

Lára graduated from Oxford University in Biological Sciences and has now been a science tutor working in the UK for several years. Lára has a particular interest in the area of infectious disease and epidemiology, and enjoys creating original educational materials that develop confidence and facilitate learning.

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