What is the Difference Between Transportation and Translocation

The main difference between transportation and translocation is that transportation is the process of transporting water from roots to the leaves of the plant whereas translocation is the process of transporting sucrose from leaves to the rest of the plant body.

Transportation and translocation are two types of conducting processes of different substances inside the plant. Transportation occurs in the xylem while translocation occurs in the phloem.  

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Transportation
– Definition, Characteristics, Function
2. What is Translocation
– Definition, Characteristics, Function
3. Similarities Between Infiltration and Percolation
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Transportation and Translocation
– Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Transportation, TranslocationTransportation vs Translocation - Comparison Summary

What is Transportation

Transportation is the conduction of water and minerals throughout the plant body. It mainly occurs through the xylem tissue. Plants absorb water and minerals through their roots. These substances enter the xylem at the root. Generally, xylem vessels and tracheids of the root interconnect with the vessels and the tracheids of the stem. This system transports water and minerals from the roots to the leaves of the plant through the stem of the plant. The transportation of water replenishes the water in the upper part of the body that is lost during transpiration and photosynthesis.

Compare Transportation and Translocation

Figure 1: Transportation and Translocation

Furthermore, xylem sap mainly contains water and minerals. However, the transportation of water and minerals to the upper part of the body is a passive action. Normally, three phenomena cause the xylem sap to move. They include the pressure flow hypothesis, transpirational pull, and root pressure. In general, the conduction of sucrose in the phloem creates solute pressure that absorbs water from the xylem. The transpiration of water from leaves creates lower water potential in the upper parts of the plant. In addition, the absorption of water from the roots creates water pressure in the root. These three forces help to transport water through the xylem.

What is Translocation

Translocation is the movement of nutrients from leaves to other parts of the plant body. Generally, plants produce their organic substances inside the leaves in a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis in plants produces Glucose, a small sugar. However, plants convert glucose into sucrose in the leaves for temporary storage. Generally, at night, the sucrose is uploaded to the phloem in order to transport it throughout the plant body. Sucrose and other organic substances transported by the phloem are called assimilates. In addition, assimilates are loaded to the phloem at the source, which is the leaves.

Transporttion vs Translocation

Figure 2: Transportation and Translocation

Moreover, assimilates are released from the phloem at the sink. The conduction of assimilates occurs by the sieve elements of the phloem that join each other at their ends, forming a continuous column. The conduction of assimilates by the phloem occurs through a concentration gradient. At the source, assimilates are actively loaded to the sieve elements at high concentrations. This decreases the water potential of the sieve element at the source. Water enters the sieve cells from the xylem, thereby increasing the pressure inside the sieve element and pulling the contents through the column. At the sink, the removal of assimilates reduces the pressure of the column. Furthermore, the pressure difference between the source and sink serves as the driving force of the passage of assimilates.

Similarities Between Transportation and Translocation

  • Transportation and translocation are two types of conducting processes of substances inside the plant body.
  • Moreover, both processes occur through the conducting tissues.

Difference Between Transportation and Translocation


Transportation refers to the movement of water and minerals from the roots to different parts of the plants while translocation refers to the movement of materials from leaves to other tissues throughout the plant.

Type of Material

Water and minerals are transported throughout the plant while sucrose is translocated through the plant parts.

Type of Vascular Tissue

The xylem involves in transportation while the phloem involves in translocation.


Transportation occurs against gravity while translocation occurs in any direction inside the plant.  


Transportation mainly occurs during the day time while translocation mainly occurs at night time.


In brief, Transportation and translocation are two conducting processes inside the plant. Vascular tissue is involved in both processes and these processes are important in conducting substances throughout the plant body. Transportation is the conduction of water and minerals through the xylem tissue. It generally occurs in the daytime. In contrast, translocation is the conduction of sucrose from leaves throughout the plant. Generally, it occurs at night. And, it occurs through the phloem. Therefore, the main difference between transportation and translocation is the type of conduction.     

  1. Transportation in Plants – Means of Transportation in Plants.BYJUS, BYJU’S, 19 Sept. 2022, 
  2. What Is Translocation? – Byju’s
Image Courtesy:
  1. Xylem and phloem diagram” By Nefronus – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Figure 30 05 07” By CNX OpenStax – Own Work (Pixabay License) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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