10 Facts On... Plant Cells

By Philip McIntosh | Published: May 1, 2018
Key Takeaways

Plants make up one of the major kingdoms of life on Earth and their cells do some amazing things.

  1. A reasonable scientific definition of a plant is an organism that is eukaryotic, multicellular, autotrophic (makes its own food), has cell walls, contains chlorophyll, and has sexual reproduction.
  2. Plants are eukaryotes, making them more closely related to protists, fungi, and animals than to bacteria. Thus, we expect plant cells to have many things in common with other eukaryotic cells.
  3. Eukaryote means “true nucleus” (from Latin) in recognition of the nucleus, which contains most of the genetic material of a plant cell.
  4. Like other higher multicellular organisms, plant cells contain mitochondria. In addition to being the sites of ATP (the major energy molecule) production, mitochondria also contain DNA of their own.
  5. Besides the nucleus and mitochondria, other organelles found in eukaryotic cells are the cell membrane, ribosomes (sites of protein synthesis), endoplasmic reticulum (post-synthesis protein processing), and Golgi apparatus (protein processing and transport).
  6. The cytoplasm of a plant cell contains specialized plant-specific structures not found in other eukaryotes.
  7. The chloroplast is a plant organelle of great importance. The reactions of photosynthesis take place here. The reactions drive energy production for the cell by combining carbon dioxide and water to form glucose and oxygen.
  8. Both plants and fungi possess cell walls, which provide protection and support. Plant cells may also contain a variety of vacuoles, fluid-filled membranous sacks of various shapes and sizes.
  9. Size wise, plant cells are similar to animal cells (around 10-30 micrometers in diameter), though they can be much larger—up to ten times the size of a typical animal cell.
  10. Are there any unicellular plants? Not according to most modern views. So, chlorophyll-containing protists (such as Euglena), photosynthetic diatoms, and some algae are not considered true plants.

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Plant Science

Written by Philip McIntosh | Science & Technology Writer, Teacher

Profile Picture of Philip McIntosh
Philip McIntosh is a science and technology writer with a bachelor’s degree in botany and chemistry and a master’s degree in biological science. During his graduate research, he used hydroponic techniques to grow axenic plants. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he teaches mathematics.

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