How Does A Cell Wall Protect A Plant Cell | A Barrier Against External Threats

How Does A Cell Wall Protect A Plant Cell

The cell wall is a permeable layer acting as the covering of the plant cell adjacent to the plasma membrane. It has many functions and plays one of the most vital roles in supporting the structure of the plant cell and protecting it.

Its importance ranges from communication among cells of the plants to defending the cells from hostile pathogens. Basically, it is vital for the protection of the plants. 

Today we talk about in detail about how does a cell wall protect a plant cell? But before that, let us know more about the cell wall itself.

What Is A Cell Wall Made Of?

What Is A Cell Wall Made Of

The plant cell wall is a complex structure. They are made up of three layers, namely the primary cell wall, middle lamella, and secondary cell wall. They might vary depending on the needs of the plants.

The main component of the cell wall is cellulose. It is a complex sugar and Glucose polymer. Cellulose plays a great role in both the structure and function of the cell wall.

Middle Lamella

The middle lamella is the outermost or the top layer in most mature plants. This flexible layer is shared by two adjacent cells, connecting the cells together and establishing communication. This also strengthens the structure of the plants.

It is built up with pectins which makes the plant cell a lot stronger and gives it the ability to withstand a lot of compressions—protecting the cell from external pressure.

The main components, however are Calcium and Magnesium Pectates. These are responsible for keeping the adjacent cells connected. There are also enzymes for helping the plant cell to adapt to situations.

Primary Cell Wall

There are a small amount of Glycoproteins and Polysaccharides in the primary cell wall. But in the cell wall of some plants, there are many other materials including Lignin, Suberin, Cutan, Cutin, and Silica. 

The polysaccharides in the cell wall can also be categorized into three parts, namely Cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins.

Secondary Cell Wall

The secondary cell wall is situated in between the plasma membrane and the primary cell wall. It stops producing after the primary cell wall is completed.

This layer is made of Cellulose, Xylan, Lignin, and Glucomannan. All these play a big role in providing strength to the wall.

It makes the cell wall really rigid and strong, increasing the compression strength of the plant cell—keeping it from getting damaged by mild squishing.

These are the three layers of the plant cell wall. There are also some pathways in the cell walls in order to establish intercellular interactions known as plasmodesmata. All these make the cell wall much stronger.

Is There Any Difference Between Cell Wall In Plant And Animal?

Is There Any Difference Between Cell Wall In Plant And Animal?

The cell wall is exclusive to the plant cell. But, the animal cell has the cell membrane, which also plays a vital role in the protection of the cell—but it does need the cell wall.

There are reasons behind the difference. Plants are immobile—they cannot move and has to stay in one spot strictly. This begs the cells to have better rigidity and the ability to withstand squeezes.

On the other hand, animal cells need to be a lot more flexible since they are always moving. So, animals do not require the shape of the cell to be maintained so strictly. Hence, the absence of a cell wall.

What Functions Cell Wall Have In Protecting A Plant Cell

What Functions Cell Wall Have In Protecting A Plant Cell

There are many functions of the cell wall, and different layers play roles in doing different functions. But the main function of the cell wall is to protect the plant cell from any external threat. 

Below are the functions of the cell wall in order to provide protection to the plant and its cells.

  • The cell wall protects the shape and rigidity of the cell by giving it the strength to withstand any mild or minimal external pressure.
  • The constituents of the cell wall protect the plant cells from being attacked by any dangerous pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. This can keep the plant safe from diseases for a longer time.
  • Due to being permeable for small molecules, the cell wall allows for materials to go inside the cell and out of the cell as per the demands. This keeps the nutrients of the cell in check, allowing it to be functioning effectively.
  • The cell wall ensures cell-to-cell communication making sure that the cells are functioning systematically—ensuring the plant is being protected from unwanted situations or dysfunctions.
  • If the amount of water in the vacuole of the cell becomes excessive, the cell would burst and get destroyed without the support of the cell wall. So, the cell wall is protecting the plant from being damaged in this way.
  • The cell wall also helps a ton to keep the water content in a healthy plant adequate and reduce excessive transpiration of the water, which could ultimately result in less turgidity. 
  • Lastly, the cell wall provides a boundary for the macromolecular materials and substances from getting inside the cell and eventually causing significant damage to the insides of the plant cell.

These are the basic functionalities of a plant cell wall. These keep the plant cells intact and safe from any external or mechanical threat. 


Cell walls are undoubtedly one of the greatest strengths of a plant cell. It helps in keeping the plants safe when it is being attacked physically, by pathogens, or even when there is any possibility of mechanical failure.

All the layers of the cell wall play important roles and contribute immensely to keeping the plants safe and strong since it essentially acts as the skin or protective layer of the cell—which in turn, keeps the entire plant safe.

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Mohammed Rujel

Over the Years, I have gained a lot of experience in different aspects of gardening. I actively learned about plants and how to care for them, and also have a lot of experience in dealing with pests and diseases. My expertise is on teaching how to grow healthy plants and make them look their best.

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