Plant Cell Functions

Ever wondered what are the different parts of a plant cell? and how the plant cell functions? Scroll down to understand the different plant cell types, and parts and functioning of a plant cell.
For every biology students, studying the animal and plant cell is a compulsory topic. And I hope it is a subject of common interest for those who have a passion for learning life's processes. The different parts of a plant cell work in coordination to carry out the normal physiological and biochemical processes of the plant. Thus, we can rather say that plant cell functions are attributed to each and every part of the plant.

Plant Cell: Types and Functions

Plant cells are of three basic types, namely, parenchyma, collenchyma and sclerenchyma. Each of these cells have different structure and perform varied roles in the overall functioning of the plant. The structure and function of these three plant cells are:

Parenchyma Cells: The parenchyma cells are living and perform multiple functions including storage, light harvesting and gas exchange. Some of them have the ability to differentiate into different types of cells (totipotent) as per the requirements of the plant. Parenchyma cells are present in the leaves, tubers and seeds.

Collenchyma Cells: Collenchyma cells are living only during maturity and possess two walls (primary and secondary). Initially, they are similar to parenchyma cells, which later differentiates into specific collenchyma cells. They are present in the vascular bundles and stems, and aid in supporting the plant during the active growing phase.

Sclerenchyma Cells: Sclerenchyma cells are dead at maturity and have thick secondary walls with lignin deposition. These cells function exclusively as mechanical support of the plant. A typical example of sclerenchyma cells in plants is fiber.

Plant Cell: Parts and Functions

While speaking on plant cell functions, the plant cell organelles play an essential role in carrying out the regular activities of the cell, so that the plant remains alive. For example, photosynthesis which is a characteristic of the plants is performed in the chloroplast; while synthesis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a form of energy takes place in the mitochondria. Following is a list of the plant cell parts and their respective functions.

Cell Wall: The outermost covering of the plant cell is the protective layer, the cell wall. Its main function includes giving support, maintaining the cell shape and controlling the growth of the cell.

Cell Membrane: Next to the cell wall, lies the cell membrane that comprises a protein and lipid bilayer. Its main function is selective transport of nutrients, wherein some are allowed to enter the cell, while others are restricted.

Vacuole: Vacuoles are organelles, which shape and structure, alter with respect to the cell requirements. They are filled with a water like solution that contains enzymes, organic and inorganic molecules.

Nucleus: The cell nucleus is simply called the control center of the plant cell, as it contains hereditary material along with other essential cell components. Overall, the nucleus is responsible for protein synthesis, cell growth, division and development.

Cytoplasm: The portion of the plant cell excluding the nucleus is called cytoplasm. Filled with jelly-like cytoplasmic fluid, maximum organelles are present in the cytoplasm.

Plastids: These are the organelles, which perform the function of photosynthesis and storage of starch molecules. Plastids are of different types and contain photosynthetic pigments.

Mitochondria: Mitochondria, also known as powerhouse of the cell, plays the crucial role of generating chemical energy for proper functioning of the plant cell. They are present in many numbers and contain hereditary material.

Ribosomes: Ribosomes are of two types, attached and free. The former is found attached to the endoplasmic reticulum, while the latter is suspended freely in the cytoplasm. Both ribosomes are responsible for protein synthesis.

Golgi Bodies: Golgi bodies are made up of 4-8 stacks (called cisternae) and are useful for packaging macromolecules that are synthesized by the cell. They are also responsible for transportation of nutrients.

Endoplasmic Reticulum: This is the organelle that connects the nucleus and cytoplasm. It performs the function of synthesizing and storing steroids and glycogen. Endoplasmic reticulum with attached ribosomes are called rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER).

Peroxisomes: These are microbodies of the plant cells that contain various degradation enzymes. Peroxisomes play the major role of digesting complex fatty acids including aiding in photosynthesis.

Thus, a plant cell functions smoothly with the help of its various structural components. Though it is eukaryotic like that of animals, it differs significantly from an animal cell. You may like to know more about the similarities between plant and animal cells. The key distinguishing feature is the presence of cell wall and chloroplast in plant cells, while they are absent in animal cells. If viewed under the microscope, you can see large, prominent vacuoles in the center of a plant cell, whereas an animal cell has small, inconspicuous vacuoles. With this, I hope you got the answer for your queries regarding plant cell parts and functions.
Last Updated: October 10, 2011
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