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I am not an expert but I guess that mangroves (or some other plants that thrive in sea water) perform some kind of desalination to extract fresh water from sea water.

Is this true? If yes, What biological mechanisms are used to remove salt from sea water?

I am interested in any research about biological desalination.

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This paper might be of interest to you: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/8/eaax5253.

The researchers created a synthetic mangrove that actually performs desalination, using the principles of natural mangroves.

The introduction has a good overview of the main ways mangroves desalinate saline water, namely:

  1. Physical blockage by suberin within cells walls
  2. Selective permeability of cell membranes in root
  3. Negative pressure caused by evaporation that acts as hydraulic pressure to cause take-up of water by roots

All these combine to turn the mangrove into a kind of natural RO (reverse osmosis) machine.

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There has been a lot of research in this field which asserts that mangroves desalinate sea water.

Scholander (1968) concludes that this process in mangroves use an ultrafiltration mechanism in the roots of the plant where membranes extract freshwater which is taken up the plant.


Scholander, P.F., 1968. How mangroves desalinate seawater. Physiologia plantarum, 21(1), pp.251-261.

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