Mesophyll Cells: Function & Definition

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  • 0:00 What are Mesophyll Cells?
  • 1:08 Mesophyll Structure
  • 1:50 Primary Role
  • 3:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeremy Battista
In this lesson, we'll be looking at mesophyll, a type of cell found in plants. We will look into what mesophyll cells are and also discover how they function.

What Are Mesophyll Cells?

When you hear about plants, everything seems to end in the suffix 'phyll.' Here we go into detail about another 'phyll:' the mesophyll.

Mesophyll cells are found in the plant's leaves. They are a type of ground tissue that is actually found as two distinct types in the leaves. In a nice organized order we find the palisade parenchyma cells of the mesophyll. These cells have a lot of chloroplasts in them, which is why they're the main sites of photosynthesis in the leaf (since chloroplasts conduct photosynthesis). There's usually only one layer of these particular cells, and they're located near the surface of the leaf just under the epidermis, which is the skin of the plant; it helps protect the rest of the leaf.

The other type of cell is the spongy mesophyll. There's still photosynthesis occurring in the spongy mesophyll, but there are large spaces left between the cells. These large spaces allow these layers to help carbon dioxide move around the leaf. The spongy mesophyll also allows the plant to bend and move in the wind, which itself helps move gases around the leaf's cells.

Mesophyll Structure

The following image is an excellent view of the layers of the leaf. Notice the mesophyll layers. The palisade parenchyma cells are on top and the spongy mesophyll is below.

Leaf cutaway

You can imagine the leaf as a lasagna. On top, you've got the epidermis with a waxy protective coating (the sauce and cheese of the lasagna). Then below that is the layer of palisade parenchyma cells (the noodles and meat/cheeses). Finally, below that is the spongy mesophyll that makes up the rest of the leaf (the remainder of the noodles and cheese, etc.). And below that are the guard cells and the stoma, which carry out some different functions that won't be covered in this lesson. This way, you have different layers of the leaf.

Primary Role

The primary and the absolute most important role of the mesophyll is its role in photosynthesis. Photosynthesis, as you may know, is the process by which a plant takes carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight and creates sugars, which result in the plant having energy.

The mesophyll's first layer is the palisade parenchyma, which, as stated earlier, is filled with a lot of chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are the sites where photosynthesis occurs, so what we have here is a layer of cells dedicated to photosynthesis. This is why we say that the mesophyll are specialized cells for photosynthesis.

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