Just like they are to animals, cells are the fundamental units of plants as well. However, plant cells are not the same as animal cells. In fact, they have a ton of unique characteristics. They not only have different organelles but a few different functions too.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at each of the organelles present in plant cells. Stick with us and learn exactly what organelles are found in plant cells and how they differ from those of animal cells.
How Plant Cells Work: An Inside Look into the Organelles
Let’s take a look at each of the organelles found in plant cells and learn their function.
Cell walls are rigid structures that surround each plant cell, and they’re mostly depicted as hexagons with long arms. However, they can be circular or rectangular as well. These are made of cellulose, and their main function is to provide structural support to the plant cells.
Although they are rigid and sturdy, the cell walls are perforated. Experts suggest that cork bottle caps are similar to cell walls. The perforations allow essential elements to pass between the cells while keeping the rest of the organelles intact.
Cell walls are found only in plant cells, and they’re completely absent in animal cells.
One of the key functions that differentiate plant cells from animal ones is the ability to produce food. While animals need consistent food intake for survival, plants produce food themselves.
The unique cell organelle that facilitates this food-making process is the chloroplast. Chloroplasts are full of green pigments known as chlorophylls. These small pigments absorb the light energy from the environment and use that to convert water and carbon dioxide into glucose.
The nucleus is called the “Command Center” of the cell, and this is equally true all cells as it’s common in both plant and animal cell structures. This is a large cell organelle, and it stores the deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA of the cell.
DNA consists of the genetic information of the plant. This means that whatever characteristic the plant shows or will show in the future depends on the DNA stored in the millions of cells throughout the plant.
It also controls important cell functions such as metabolism and growth. There’s a smaller organelle within the nucleus, known as the nucleolus. This store’s ribonucleic acid, also known as the RNA.
The key function of the RNA is to send the messages crafted by the DNA of one cell to the rest of the cells. This helps conduct the same actions over every cell across a plant body.
While animal cells have cell vacuoles, they are very different from those of plant cells. Plant cell vacuoles are rather large, and there’s usually one vacuole per cell.
The vacuoles are essentially bubble-like structures filled with cell sap. One of the key functions of cell vacuoles is to maintain the shape of the cell. Secondly, it holds nutrients, salts, minerals, as well as water.
In the case of flower petals, the cell vacuole might also hold pigments that give the flower colors.
Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum
The smooth endoplasmic reticulum produces steroids and lipid in a plant cell. Unlike its rough counterpart, the smooth ER isn’t covered in the ribosome. Hence, it doesn’t take part in protein synthesis.
Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum
An endoplasmic reticulum studded with ribosome is called the rough endoplasmic reticulum. These organelles take part in protein synthesis.
The ribosomes on the surface of the ER form a polypeptide chain which is later absorbed by the ER’s lumen. Depending on the type, the protein folds into a complex structure inside the ER.
Another complicated yet essential function of the RER is adding carbohydrates to the protein so they can be transported to the Golgi apparatus.
The Golgi apparatus, also known as the Golgi body, is a vessel for storing protein sent by the rough ER. Essentially, the Golgi apparatus is a collection of sacs that are bound by thin membranes. It’s also known as the mailroom of the cell as it sends protein out of the cell.
Once the protein is deposited and stored in the Golgi apparatus, it is then sent toward the cell wall. It eventually leaves the cell and becomes a part of the lipid layer.
Also known as the powerhouse of the body, the Mitochondria are considered one of the most important organelles of a plant body.
The main function of this organelle is to release energy into the rest of the cell. The other organelles use this energy to conduct all the cellular functions. So, in a sentence, it’s not possible to run any living body without Mitochondria.
These organelles mainly function by cellular respiration. In this metabolic process, the Mitochondria break down glucose molecules to release energy. With that energy, adenosine triphosphate or ATP is produced.
ATP is later used by the rest of the organelles as fuel for conducting essential processes.
Ribosomes are called the protein factory of cells. They are often found within the endoplasmic reticulum. Or they float freely within the cell. The main function of Ribosomes is to synthesize proteins based on the instructions provided by the RNA.
Lysosomes are organelles that mainly break down extra or old cell portions. They also destroy invasive chemicals and trigger apoptosis. These store digestive enzymes that help carry out these processes.
As you can see, plant cells differ greatly from animal cells.
Plant cells have a rigid cell structure, and they have the ability to produce food through photosynthesis. The presence of unique organelles is what facilitates these.