Parts of the cell and their Functions
The Golgi Apparatus Model. David Gunn / Getty Images
The following are examples of structures and organelles that can be found in typical plant cells:
Chloroplast - the sites of photosynthesis in a plant cell. They contain chlorophyll, a green pigment that absorbs energy from sunlight.
Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) - extensive network of membranes composed of both regions with ribosomes (rough ER) and regions without ribosomes (smooth ER). The ER synthesizes proteins and lipids.
Microtubules - hollow rods that function primarily to help support and shape the cell. They are important for chromosome movement in mitosis and meiosis, as well as cytosol movement within a cell.
Mitochondria - these organelles generates energy for the cell by converting glucose (produced by photosynthesis) and oxygen to ATP. This process is known as respiration.
Nucleus - membrane bound structure that contains the cell's hereditary information (DNA).
Nucleolus - structure within the nucleus that helps in the synthesis of ribosomes.
Nucleopore - tiny hole within the nuclear membrane that allows nucleic acids and proteins to move into and out of the nucleus.
Peroxisomes - tiny structures bound by a single membrane that contain enzymes that produce hydrogen peroxide as a by-product. These structures are involved in plant processes such as photorespiration.
Plasmodesmata - pores or channels between plant cell walls that allow molecules and communication signals to pass between individual plant cells.
Ribosomes - consisting of RNA and proteins, ribosomes are responsible for protein assembly. They can be found either attached to the rough ER or free in the cytoplasm.
Vacuole - structure in a plant cell that provides support and participates in a variety of cellular functions including storage, detoxification, protection, and growth. When a plant cell matures, it typically contains one large liquid-filled vacuole.
This is a typical dicotyledon stem (Buttercup). At center is an oval vascular bundle embedded in parenchyma cells (yellow) of the cortex of the stem. Some parenchyma cells contain chloroplasts (green). The vascular bundle contains large xylem vessels (center right) which serve to conduct water; the nutrient conducting phloem is orange. At the outer edge of the vascular bundle is sclerenchyma tissue which supports the vascular bundle. POWER AND SYRED/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images
As a plant matures, its cells become specialized in order to perform certain functions necessary for survival. Some plant cells synthesize and store organic products, while others help to transport nutrients throughout the plant. Some examples of specialized plant cell types include:
Parenchyma cells are usually depicted as the typical plant cell because they are not very specialized. These cells synthesize (by photosynthesis) and store organic products in the plant. Most of the plant's metabolism takes place in these cells. Parenchyma cells compose the middle layer of leaves as well as the outer and inner layers of stems and roots. The soft tissue of fruits is also composed of parenchyma cells.
Collenchyma cells have a support function in plants, particularly in young plants. These cells help to support plants while not restraining growth due to their lack of secondary cell walls and the absence of a hardening agent in their primary cell walls.
Sclerenchyma cells also have a support function in plants, but unlike collenchyma cells, they have a hardening agent and are much more rigid. These cells are thick and contain various shapes. Sclerenchyma cells form the hard outer shell of nuts and seeds. They are found in stems, roots, and leaf vascular bundles.
Water Conducting Cells
Water conducting cells of xylem also have a support function in plants but unlike collenchyma cells, they have a hardening agent and are much more rigid. Two types of cells compose xylem. They are narrow, hollow cells called tracheids and vessel members. Gymnosperms and seedless vascular plants contain tracheids, while angiosperms contain both tracheids and vessel members.
Sieve Tube Members
Sieve tube cells of phloem conduct organic nutrients such as sugar throughout the plant. Other cell types found in phloem include companion cells, phloem fibres, and parenchyma cells.