Interaction of Major Systems & Processes in Plants

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  • 0:04 What Are Plants?
  • 0:54 Organelles
  • 1:58 Cells & Tissues
  • 3:42 Organs & Organ Systems
  • 5:18 Organisms
  • 5:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, we'll be exploring the relationship between major systems and processes in plants. We'll look at the ascending cellular structure of plants from organelles to organism and how these relate to molecular functions.

What Are Plants?

Take a deep breath in. Now, release your breath. This calming activity not only slows down your nervous system but it also gives life to your body. All of our cells require oxygen to make energy and thus stay alive. But where do we get oxygen? We breathe in oxygen from the atmosphere, but the ultimate source of oxygen is from plants.

Plants are multicellular organisms that are non-motile, meaning they do not move. But the most defining characteristic of plants is their ability to make their own food from sunlight and carbon dioxide in a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis also produces oxygen, which humans, as well as plants, use to make energy. Today, we're going to look at the internal structure of plants, and how their cells are arranged into major organ systems to carry out important processes.


Cells are the basic units of life. But cells aren't just brick-like building blocks. They are dynamic, constantly moving and changing to adjust to their environment. Inside cells are tiny compartments called organelles that do specific jobs.

Plant cells have several unique organelles that work together to allow them to carry out their function. First, all plant cells have a thick cell wall, which surrounds their cell membrane. This helps to give plants their rigid structure, particularly in tissues like bark which need to be rigid and strong.

Vacuoles look like a large swimming pool inside a plant cell. Vacuoles are used to store water. When there is more water in the environment, such as when we water our house plants, water flows into plant cells and the plant stores it in the vacuole. This also increases plant turgidity and allows the plant to stand up straight.

Chloroplasts are the structures inside plant cells that contain chlorophyll, the chemical needed to conduct photosynthesis. Chloroplasts are found in green parts of the plant that participate in photosynthesis, such as the shoots and leaves.

Cells & Tissues

Organelles make up cells, the basic units of life. Although we typically might draw a plant cell as a generic green square, there are many types of cells inside plants. Parenchyma cells form the soft tissues of plants and the cells that do photosynthesis, as well as cells involved in plant cell structure. Collenchyma cells provide support for plants. They harden as they mature and are often part of vascular tissue or stems. Sclerenchyma cells are even more sturdy and often form parts of woody stems as they are dead at maturity.

Xylem cells also help with support of the plant, but they are also uniquely adapted to carry water for the plant. Phloem cells similarly transport sugar, nutrients and hormones around the plant, similarly to how our blood vessels transport oxygen and nutrients to our tissues.

Cells come together to form tissues in living things. There are three main types of tissues in plants: dermal, vascular tissue, and ground tissue. The epidermis in plants is similar to our dermis, or our skin. The epidermis in plants functions to protect the plant from drying out and from invaders like fungi and other pathogens. Cells in the epidermis are tightly packed together and usually are coated with a waxy substance to prevent water loss.

Vascular tissue serves the purpose of transporting water and nutrients around the plant. There are two main types of vascular tissue: xylem and phloem. Xylem transports water around the plant, and phloem transports products of photosynthesis, like sugar, nutrients, and hormones. Ground tissue is like the meat of the plant. All tissue that is not dermal or vascular is ground tissue. Cells that function in supporting the plant and performing photosynthesis are all part of the ground tissue.

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