Vacuoles

“Vacuoles are membrane-bound cell organelles present in the cytoplasm and filled with a watery fluid containing various substances.”

What are Vacuoles?

The term “vacuole” means “empty space”.  They help in the storage and disposal of various substances. They can store food or other nutrients required by a cell to survive. They also store waste products and prevent the entire cell from contamination.

The vacuoles in plant cells are larger than those in the animal cells. The plant vacuoles occupy more than 80% of the volume of the cell. The vacuoles may be one or more in number.

Let us have a detailed look at the structure and function of vacuoles.

Also Read: Cell Organelles

Structure of Vacuole

A vacuole is a membrane bound structure found in the cytoplasmic matrix of a cell. The membrane surrounding the vacuole is known as tonoplast. The components of the vacuole, known as the cell sap, differ from that of the surrounding cytoplasm. The membranes are composed of phospholipids. The membranes are embedded with proteins that help in transporting molecules across the membrane. Different combinations of these proteins help the vacuoles to hold different materials.

Functions of Vacuole

The important functions of vacuole include:

Storage

A vacuole stores salts, minerals, pigments and proteins within the cell. The solution that fills a vacuole is known as the cell sap. The vacuole is also filled with protons from the cytosol that helps in maintaining an acidic environment within the cell. A large number of lipids are also stored within the vacuoles.

Turgor Pressure

The vacuoles are completely filled with water and exert force on the cell wall. This is known as turgor pressure. It provides shape to the cell and helps it to withstand extreme conditions.

Endocytosis and Exocytosis

The substances are taken in by a vacuole through endocytosis and excreted through exocytosis. These substances are stored in the cells, separated from the cytosol. Lysosomes are vesicles that intake food and digest it. This is endocytosis and it varies in different cells.

Also Read: Endocytosis and Exocytosis

An animal cell contains several vacuoles performing different functions. It has several vesicles that fuse together to form vacuoles.

To know more about vacuoles, its definition, structure and functions, keep visiting BYJU’S website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do plant cells have larger vacuoles?

The plant cells have larger vacuoles because they require more water, organic and inorganic components for the proper functioning of the cell.

Why are vacuoles an important cell organelle?

Vacuoles store nutrients and water on which a cell can rely for its survival. They also store the waste from the cell and prevents the cell from contamination. Hence, it is an important organelle.

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