The plant cell is a unique mystery containing myriad organelles. These organelles have a multitude of different structures which are responsible for certain functions within the plant cell. One of these structures is the chromosome which resides in the organelle called the nucleus.
Chromosomes are known as the physical basis of heredity, which is why they are considered one of the most important structures in animal cells. But, does a plant cell have a chromosome? Obviously, they do. Keep reading to find out about their role in plant cells.
What Are Chromosomes?
Chromosomes are an integral part of organelles called the nucleus. In fact, chromosomes form the center of the nucleus and are responsible for many functions within and outside the cell.
To be more specific, a chromosome is a stringy structure of the cell’s nucleus that houses DNA, histone, and structural proteins of the cell. It constitutes an aggregation of genes that are responsible for the passage of hereditary traits and characteristics. The incorporation of chromatin during cell division paves the way for forming a chromosome. This incorporation takes place in the nucleus of the cell.
Besides, chromosomes also bear genetic code that takes part in the synthesis of protein. No cell can function without protein, and this is where chromosomes take the upper hand. By producing proteins necessary for cell survival, chromosomes play a huge role in cell sustenance. These proteins are important for regulating vital processes and delivering cell and tissue support.
Structurally, chromosomes look like threads or coils and bear two arms connected with the help of a centromere. The two arms are known as ‘p’ and ‘q’ arms, where the shorter one is the ‘p’ arm and the longer one is the ‘q’ arm. Chromosomes also have an end point or terminal region called the telomere. There are secondary constrictions and an elongated segment called a satellite in a chromosome.
With a complex structure that deals with so many functions, a chromosome can be regarded as one of the most vital aspects of a cell.
Do Plant Cells Have Chromosomes?
Of course, plant cells have chromosomes. In fact, chromosomes are the most crucial part of plant cells.
Most people assume that chromosomes are an integral part of animal cells only. So, why do plant cells have chromosomes? This is because plants are categorized under Eukaryotes. Any cell that contains a well-defined and functional nucleus falls under the heading of Eukaryote. Since plant cells have a clearly defined nucleus, they contain chromosomes as well.
Just like animal cell chromosomes, plant cell chromosomes undergo vital processes like replication and segregation. Besides, plant cells require nucleic acids like DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) to maintain the cell life. These nucleic acids are housed by the mighty chromosome. Both DNA and RNA have vital roles in cell reproduction and survival.
DNA plays role in the transmission of characteristics from parent plants to offspring, whereas RNA plays a role in the synthesis of proteins necessary for cell sustenance. Plant cells cannot function without chromosomes, and they are thus called hereditary vehicles in plants.
How Do Plant Chromosomes Compare To Animal Chromosomes
Although the functions are almost similar, there are still many differences between plant and animal chromosomes.
In plant chromosomes, cell division occurs with the help of a method called cell-plate whereas, in animal chromosomes, the method is called cytokinesis.
Chromosomes in plants can be easily modified compared to animal cells. This is why recombination is relatively easy with plant chromosomes in comparison to animal chromosomes.
Although the numbers vary for each plant and animal, usually, plant chromosomes are less in number than animal chromosomes.
Despite having these differences, both the chromosomes function equally when it comes to supporting cell survival and maintenance.
How Many Chromosomes Do Plant Cells Have?
The number of chromosomes is different for each plant cell. Some plant cells have a huge number of chromosomes, while some have very few of them. The reason behind this variation in the number of chromosomes is due to the different errors in fertilization or cell division processes. This error is particularly known as polyploidy.
Among the crop plants, rice has 24 chromosomes, wheat has 42 chromosomes, maize has 20 chromosomes, and barley has only 14 chromosomes. On the other hand, sugarcane has almost 80 chromosomes, whereas cotton has 56 chromosomes.
Fern has the highest number of chromosomes, amounting to almost 1440, while Haplopappus gracilis has merely 4 chromosomes.
What Do Chromosomes Do?
Chromosomes perform crucial functions in a plant cell. Let’s have a look at some of them-
The main function of chromosome in plants is to bear genetic information from one generation to another. This hereditary transmission takes place through genes. So, what genetic information does a chromosome carry? From the length of the plant, its height, its flower and fruit color, shape, and so on- every information is decoded within the genes. In fact, the chromosome is also responsible for the expression of different traits within the plant that have been transmitted from its previous generations.
Determining the sex of the plant
Just like animal cells, chromosomes are also responsible for determining the sex of a plant. However, this is slightly different in the case of plant cells. Animal cells usually have one specific gender. But plants can be either male or female or have both sexes present in the same plant. Based on this feature, plants can be either monoecious or diecious.
Chromosomes in plants are usually responsible for the expression of reproductive parts.
Chromosomes in a plant cell also determine the life and sustenance of a plant in a specific environment. Plant cells have been genetically modified in such a way that they can thrive in certain environmental conditions. Some plants can live in soils with very low nitrogen content, while other plants need a decent amount of nitrogen in the soil to survive.
On the other hand, some plants can live underwater while some plants can survive in terrestrial as well as barren lands. This cellular adaptation in plants is all due to their chromosomal configuration.
Chromosomes are also responsible for manufacturing proteins that are necessary for cell survival. Plant cells contain chromosomes that bear genes for the expression of certain proteins. These proteins are necessary for the function of different enzymes and hormones. In plant cells, hormones and enzymes have roles in different physiological processes. Without chromosomes, these enzymes and hormones would’ve stopped functioning, with the physiological processes coming to a halt.
Hence, starting from the genetic transmission to conducting vital processes in a plant cell, a chromosome has an indispensable role in a plant cell.
How Are Chromosomes Structured?
Chromosomes have a very unique and complicated structure.
In plant cells, the chromosome bears 3 main parts- a centromere, a telomere, and the arm region. The centromere is also known as the primary constriction that is responsible for creating an attachment with the spindle during cell division.
The telomere is the hindmost portion of the chromosome, whereas the arm region is a combination of two arms connected by the centromere. Now, the smaller arm is known as the ‘p’ arm, while the bigger is termed as the ‘q’ arm. Telomere is a constitution of tandem repetitions of small DNA remnants. On the other hand, the arms are responsible for forming tandem repetitions of base sequences. The arms also take part in creating dicentric chromosomes.
Apart from a primary constriction, chromosomes bear secondary constrictions that take part in the generation of nucleoli in a nucleus. There is a disc-shaped structure called kinetochore in the chromosome, which takes part in the polymerization of tubulin proteins. These proteins later play role in the formation of microtubules in the cell.
Chromosomes also contain vital structures called chromatin which is constituted by DNA, RNA, and different proteins. Chromatin can be classified into heterochromatin and euchromatin. Heterochromatin is the compact and deep portion, while euchromatin is the lighter portion of chromatin.
Despite having a complex structure, chromosomes still manage to deliver a top-notch performance in the cell survival game.
Types Of Plant Chromosomes
There are mainly two types of chromosomes in plants- sex chromosomes and autosomes.
Like the name suggests, the sex chromosome is responsible for the determination of sex in plants. It determines whether the plant will be male, female, or have a combination of both reproductive parts.
On the other hand, autosomes in plants are responsible for the expression of different traits like height, length, shape, color, and so on.
Both of these chromosomes are responsible for the unique and diverse characteristics noticed in the plants.
Is Chromosome The Reason Behind Incredible Diversity Of Plants?
Chromosome is definitely one of the main reasons behind the incredible diversity of plants.
What makes a plant diverse and unique? It’s different physical attributes and traits.
And how do these traits modify over time and give the plants a unique appearance? Through chromosomal configuration.
As a matter of fact, chromosomes have been responsible for bringing out the best in plants. With the help of chromosomal constitution and genetic modifications, plants have been expressing their different traits with each generation. With each generation, the different traits of a parent plant get expressed in the offspring bringing diversity to the environment.
Besides, the crossing over of chromosomes in meiosis cell division helps in the expression of random genetic combinations from both sets of parents. As a result, there is an assertion of genetic diversity.
Can Plant Chromosomes Adapt To Changing Environments?
Yes, as a matter of fact, the reason behind the adaptation of plants to changing environments is due to their genetic constitution.
Plants can adapt to different changing environmental conditions due to their chromosomal configuration. The structural changes in a chromosome are responsible for variation and evolution.
Plant chromosomes can adapt to changing environments due to these structural changes. The changes allow them to thrive in certain environmental conditions and adapt to the transformations in each environment.
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Wrapping up the article, it can be said that plant chromosomes are responsible for some of the most vital functions in a plant cell. Starting from the transmission of heredity to their crucial role in the diversity of plants, chromosomes have been playing a vital part in the existence of plants.