In cytology, there are only a handful of cell components that are as important as Chloroplasts. But it doesn’t belong to every type of cell out there. This begs the question, do plant cells have Chloroplasts?
To get straight to the point, yes, plant cells contain Chloroplasts. If I’m to be more specific, only plant cells are able to host Chloroplasts in the first place.
But why is that? In my article, I will go through all the details regarding Chloroplasts and their use & usefulness in the plant cell.
So, go through all the details thoroughly to find everything about Chloroplasts and their effect on plant cells.
What are Chloroplasts?
Chloroplasts are cell organelles that belong to plant cells only. And the main purpose that it serves is to contain and transform light energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis.
This component is actually traced back to pre-historic symbiosis during an engulfing of light-sensitive prokaryotes by nucleated variants of a cell.
Many researchers have claimed that this component has been an evolved form of certain bacteria for more than three or four million years before. Back then, they used to be much bigger in size, but nowadays, Chloroplasts are nothing more than tiny circular genomes.
That being said, there have been claims that chloroplasts are an evolved form of previous plant cells from the cataclysmic era. That was when trees needed another way of survival than consuming necessary chemicals from their roots.
Do Plant Cells Have Chloroplasts?
Yes, plant cells exclusively have chloroplasts; no other type of cells have this component in them. Chloroplasts are the main difference between a plant cell and an animal cell, to be exact. Also, the cell wall can also be regarded as a major differentiator between plant & animal cells.
Structure of Chloroplasts
Generally, Chloroplasts have an oval-like shape with only two similar membranes. The membranes are regarded as the inner & outer membranes. There are 8 to 20 nanometers of the gap between the membranes; it is defined as intermembrane space.
This is also where stroma lies. Stroma is the fluid residing inside Chloroplasts that conducts the chemical conversion process of carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and water.
How Do Chloroplasts Help Plants?
Chloroplasts help the plant cell by providing food and conducting important chemical reactions, which leads to the generation of sugar and water. Making it the essential part of the plant cell.
Without the help of Chloroplasts, a plant won’t be able to create food for itself because it won’t be able to capture energy from the sun.
So, the plant won’t be able to get food and none of the necessary sugars. So, soon it will die out due to malnutrition. And this will affect not only the plant life but also the entire environment.
As photosynthesis is also the process from which oxygen is ultimately generated. So, animals won’t be able to obtain oxygen and not to mention fruits that plants bore with the extra glucose and sugar that it has after photosynthesis.
Helps in Production
Therefore, it is safe to say that, Chloroplasts help plants to capture light energy and ensures the creation of sugar/glucose, oxygen, water, and a few other things.
Also, Chloroplasts do create certain amino acids & lipids, which work to strengthen the Chloroplasts membrane and a few other components of the plant cell.
That’s why Chloroplasts are regarded by such high standards by every researcher & scientist across the world. Because without this small component, the entire plant is doomed!
How Do Chloroplasts Capture Energy from the Sun?
So, now you might be wondering, how do Chloroplasts capture energy in the first place?
Well, the process is not that complicated.
Chloroplasts contain Chlorophyll. These chlorophylls come with various pigments which are able to absorb different forms of light.
In short, the chlorophyll pigments are able to interact and contain light of various wavelengths.
When sunlight falls upon plant cells (leaves, for example), the intermembrane space opens, allowing the stroma to interact with the light. Once stroma and light come into contact, it opens up and allows the chlorophyll pigments to absorb the light.
This also triggers the photosynthesis process, and it immediately starts in the cytoplasm. Almost seventy to eighty percent of the entire photosynthesis process is done inside Chloroplasts. Only the electron transformation does it goes to the mitochondria and to the other parts of the plant cell.
And there you have it. This is how Chloroplasts capture energy directly from the sun. Do keep in mind that the photosynthesis process can continue even when sunlight is not available.
But during that period, the photosynthesis rate is very low, and some plants don’t even conduct photosynthesis at some times without the presence of light.
How do Plants Get Energy without Chloroplasts?
So, what happens to plants that don’t have Chloroplasts in their cells. Well, then the entire chemical breakdown process is conducted by mitochondria.
The way they harness the energy can be divided into two parts:
- From natural resources
- Or from other plants
Gathering Energy from Natural Resources
Plants without Chloroplasts use their roots to obtain chemical energy or the necessary sugar from the soil. These types of plants are very rare and only grow in extremely harsh conditions.
Obtaining Energy from Other Plants
Parasitic plants have no chlorophyll and don’t have roots that can reach the required depth to obtain food. So, they attach themselves to other healthy plants and gain energy from them. And then proceeds to photosynthesis.
The process that occurs in the mitochondria of these types of plant cells is not complete photosynthesis, but it does the necessary work for the cell to generate the required chemical energy for its survival.
There aren’t many plants that follow this form of photosynthesis, and it is mostly seen in single-cell organisms like bacteria.
An easy way to find out the plants that don’t get energy from chloroplasts is the ones that have no color in them. Chlorophylls ensure that plants have colors, and there are many types of Chlorophylls out there. The most potent one is the ones that are found in green plants.
But if there isn’t any Chlorophyll inside a plant cell, then it will be white. A common example can be the roots of certain plants like ghost plants.
Where are Chloroplasts Found in the Cell?
Chloroplasts need to get in touch with sunlight in order to trigger photosynthesis and light absorption. That’s why it is located near the closest to the cell wall inside the mesophyll.
This way, Chloroplasts will come directly in contact with sunlight without any trouble or resistance. And if we consider the position of Chloroplasts in the cytoplasm, then it is located inside the cytosol and is also protected by the cytoplasm thoroughly.
That’s why it doesn’t get damaged even with a long time of exposure to sunlight.
And that’s it. This is all the general information that you need to know about Chloroplasts and their role in a plant cell’s functionality and survival.
As described in this article, there is no doubt that Chloroplasts are arguably the most important component of a plant cell and one of the core reasons why plants provide us with oxygen and foods.
Hopefully, this clears all of your questions and confusion regarding Chloroplasts.