5 Characteristics of plant cells

Vegetables are very diverse among themselves, there are countless colors, giant and tiny sizes, etc. Therefore, we can sense that plant cells can be very interesting and complex. It is advisable to know the base of eukaryotic cells that makes up the entire Kingdom Plantae or kingdom of plants or vegetables, since this makes it easier to understand them much better and the relationship they have with other living beings that make up the environment.

If you want to learn about what the plant cell is, its parts and functions , among other important aspects, keep reading this interesting article.

What is the plant cell

The plant cell is the one that makes up the members of the kingdom Plantae . It is a eukaryotic cell , with a differentiated nucleus, membrane and cytoplasm just like the animal cell. Both types of cells share some characteristics but differ in others. Specifically, the plant cell has unique parts, since it carries out a process exclusive to the Plantae kingdom: photosynthesis .

Despite their differences with the animal cell, it is important to remember that all cells contain hereditary genetic material that they pass on to their descendants. The genes in the plant cell are found in structures called chromosomes within the cell nucleus.

Plant cells are differentiated from other types of eukaryotic cells by certain distinctive characteristics, such as:

They contain a large central vacuole that helps with the movement of molecules and the digestion of waste. An immature plant cell contains several vacuoles that grow and merge into one large one. The vacuole in a mature plant cell can occupy up to 90% of its volume.

They have a cell wall made mainly of cellulose that is found outside the cell membrane that provides support and protection to the cell, as well as plays a leading role in cellular communication.

The plant cell is responsible for photosynthesis , a very important process in nature during which plants release the vital oxygen that living beings need to breathe.

It contains plasmodesmata , pores in the cell wall that allow communication with adjacent cells.

They include plastids among their organelles , in particular chloroplasts that are vital in photosynthesis and contain the chlorophyll that gives plants their green color. Some of them do not have flagella or centrioles.

Characteristics of plant cells

Plant cells have several characteristics that distinguish them from other types of cells. Here are some key characteristics of plant cells:

  1. Cell Wall: Plant cells have a rigid cell wall composed of cellulose. This wall provides structural support and protection for the cell, helping to maintain its shape and prevent it from bursting. The cell wall also allows for the movement of water, nutrients, and other substances between adjacent plant cells.
  2. Chloroplasts: Plant cells contain chloroplasts, which are specialized organelles responsible for photosynthesis. Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll, a pigment that captures sunlight and converts it into chemical energy. Through photosynthesis, plant cells convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen.
  3. Large Vacuole: Plant cells have a large central vacuole that occupies a significant portion of the cell’s volume. This vacuole stores water, nutrients, waste products, and pigments. It helps regulate the osmotic balance within the cell and contributes to the overall turgidity and rigidity of the plant.
  4. Plasmodesmata: Plant cells are interconnected by plasmodesmata, small channels that traverse the cell walls. These channels allow for the exchange of molecules, such as nutrients and signaling molecules, between neighboring cells. Plasmodesmata play a crucial role in coordinating the activities of different plant cells and tissues.
  5. No Centrioles: Unlike animal cells, plant cells do not have centrioles. Centrioles are structures involved in cell division and the organization of the cytoskeleton. Plant cells utilize other mechanisms to ensure proper cell division and cytoskeletal organization.
  6. Rigidity: Due to the presence of the cell wall and central vacuole, plant cells are generally more rigid and have a fixed shape. This rigidity contributes to the structural integrity of plants, allowing them to stand upright and support their own weight.

In summary, plant cells have distinct characteristics, including a cell wall, chloroplasts, a large central vacuole, plasmodesmata, and a rigid structure. These features enable plant cells to carry out photosynthesis, store nutrients, maintain turgidity, and provide structural support for plants.

Types of plant cells

  • Parenchyma cells.
  • Collenchyma cells.
  • Sclerenchyma cells.

Types of plant tissues

  • Xylem cells: specialized in water conduction.
  • Phloem: dedicated to the transport of food.
  • Epidermal cells: specialized cells that cover leaves, stems, flowers, and all parts of the plant.
  • Plant cell: parts and functions – What is the plant cell

Parts of the plant cell and their functions

This type of cell has a structure with several organelles the same or similar to other eukaryotic cells and others, however, are completely exclusive, such as:

  • Nucleus: it is the control center of the cell and contains genetic information in the form of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The same number of chromosomes is found in all cells of members of the same species.
  • Nuclear membrane: the membrane or nuclear envelope is a thin layer of lipids with holes that allow access to and exit of material from the cell nucleus and that separates the nucleus from the cytoplasm.
  • Plasma or cell membrane: it is also an external layer but in this case it surrounds the entire cell. Its composition is dominated by lipids and proteins and its surface exhibits tiny pores necessary for the exchange processes of substances between the cell and the outside world.
  • The Cytoskeleton: is an important structure that gives support and shape to the cell and keeps the organelles in place. It is essential in the growth, movement and reproduction of the cell, as well as in the exchange of substances with the outside world.
  • Cell wall: it is a rigid layer or structure composed mainly of cellulose and whose function is to protect the plasma membrane and give rigidity and shape to the cell. Additionally, it has ducts called plasmodesmata that allow communication with other cells. It has three fundamental parts: primary wall, secondary wall and middle lamella.
  • Cytoplasm: is the matter within the plasma membrane except for the nucleus and which contains the cytosol and the organelles of the cell. It is covered by a thin film. To understand it better, it is everything that is between the plasma membrane and the nucleus.

Plant cell organelles

Regarding the organelles of plant cells, we can mention the following:

  • Endoplasmic reticulum: it is defined as a system of membranes similar to sacs that surround the nucleus, thanks to which the transport of substances within the cell is carried out and also participate in the synthesis of proteins and lipids. There are two types: smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum.
  • Golgi apparatus: it is a set of flattened sacs arranged in a stacked manner, which is responsible for sending substances through the plasma membrane.
  • Ribosomes: are the sites where protein synthesis takes place. They are made up of proteins and ribosomal RNA.
  • Vacuole: Mature plant cells have a large vacuole that contains fluids. It is a large organelle surrounded by a membrane called the tonoplast or vacuolar membrane. Thanks to vacuoles, plant tissues remain rigid.
  • Mitochondria: they are the energy center of the cell. These organelles are wrapped in two membranes and cristae are normally observed on the inner membrane. Cellular respiration takes place in the mitochondria, through which ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is produced.
  • Plasts: produce and store important elements for the process of photosynthesis, the synthesis of lipids and amino acids. There are two types of plastids, primary and secondary. The former are found in most plants while the secondary ones are exclusive to plankton.
  • Leukoplasts: store colorless substances, but allow the conversion of glucose.
  • Chromoplasts: these plastids are responsible for the wonderful colors that many fruits or flowers have.
  • Chloroplasts: they are characteristic organelles of the plant cell because the process of photosynthesis takes place in them. They contain a green substance or pigment called chlorophyll and which gives plants their distinctive green color. Chloroplasts convert light energy from the sun into chemical energy.

Importance of the plant cell

Without a doubt, photosynthesis , the process responsible for the transformation of solar energy into organic matter, is the cornerstone of life on Earth . To achieve this, photosynthesis creates ATP and NADPH molecules, the first ones where the chemical energy created is stored.

In general, the nucleus of plant cells also contains the hereditary material that is passed from generation to generation. At the same time, they are the point where the essential biochemical functions that synthesize essential molecules are carried out.

Unlike animal cells, plant cells have a cell wall that provides rigidity and protection to the plasma membrane. However, this wall is not exclusive to the plant cell, since other eukaryotic cells also have it. Chloroplasts and vacuoles are also inherent to the cells of any type of plant that performs photosynthesis. This organelle is responsible for the green hue of plants and the transformation of inorganic matter into organic matter from the energy of the Sun. It is a very important element in nature since it releases the vital oxygen that living beings breathe .

Furthermore, vegetables are basic in the food chains of the various ecosystems on Earth, they are part of the basis of the diet of a great variety and number of species.

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