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What are the Parts of a Plant Cell?

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  • 0:03 The Plant Cell
  • 0:47 Plant Cell Coverings
  • 1:28 Inside a Plant Cell
  • 4:36 Plant Cell Unique Structures
  • 5:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

Plant cells are made up of many different parts, each with a specific job. Working together, they keep a cell healthy and running smoothly. In this lesson, take a closer look at a plant cell and gain an understanding of how each part works.

The Plant Cell

The variety of plants found on Earth is vast. From towering redwoods to blades of grass, there is one commonality that ties all plants together. Like every other living organism, the basic building block of plants is the cell. But to call a cell a mere building block simply doesn't do it justice.

Not just an inanimate object that creates a structure, a cell is much more. It's virtually a self-contained factory, buzzing with activity and life. With specialized organelles doing specific jobs, the accomplishments of a cell are really quite impressive. In this lesson, we're going to zoom in on a plant cell and gain an understanding of the parts that make it work.

Plant Cell Coverings

As previously mentioned, a plant cell is a self-contained unit. It's surrounded by not one but two enclosures. The outermost layer is called the cell wall and is unique to plant cells. Like an actual wall, this layer is fairly rigid. Composed of strong fibers made of cellulose, the cell wall layer is relatively thick and gives plants their firm structure as well as protection.

Inside the cell wall is the second covering, the cell membrane. Thin and flexible, it keeps the contents of the cell intact much like a balloon holding water. This sac-like covering is semi-permeable, meaning select particles can move through the membrane.

Inside a Plant Cell

Now we will take a look at the parts of the cell located inside the cell membrane, which are known as organelles. Similar to the organs inside our bodies, each cell organelle has a specific job that contributes to the overall function of the cell. Remembering our factory analogy, we will look at each organelle.

In the center of the plant cell within its own membrane lies the nucleus. The nucleus is like the command center of the factory. Vital genetic instructions for the cell are found here in the form of DNA. These instructions will be transported and read by organelles known as ribosomes.

Ribosomes are the producers of our factory-like cell. They are responsible for making proteins, which are a crucial part of every living thing. The genetic instructions laid out by the DNA are brought to the ribosomes by the traveling messenger of our factory, which is a molecule known as mRNA. Ribosomes read the instructions and then link together amino acids in the right order to assemble proteins.

Although many ribosomes are found floating freely in the cell, many are attached to an organelle called the endoplasmic reticulum, or ER for short. The endoplasmic reticulum comes in two forms: rough and smooth. The rough version is that which is studded with ribosomes, making it bumpy.

The ER is essentially a labyrinth made out of a membrane, folded on top of itself many times. Its job within the factory is to collect proteins that have been synthesized by the ribosomes. The ER puts these proteins into tidy packages called vesicles and then sends them off to its working partner, the Golgi apparatus.

Many important processes occur within the Golgi apparatus. This is a warehouse of sorts, where newly arriving vesicles are sorted, modified, and shipped out to various locations. Similar to the ER, the Golgi is made up of a series of membranes stacked together much like a pancake stack. There are two distinct sides to the Golgi. The side that receives vesicles is known as the cis side. The side that ships out is the trans side, which you can remember by thinking of the vesicles being ''transferred.''

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