Wayne, Randy O. Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Whaley, W. Gordon Cell Research Institute, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.
Last reviewed:August 2018
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- Plant cell growth
- Plasma membrane
- Endoplasmic reticulum
- Golgi apparatus
- Lipid bodies
- Cell wall
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The basic unit of structure and function in plants. Although plant cells are variously modified in structure and function, they have many common features (Fig. 1). The most distinctive attribute of the majority of plant cells is the rigid cell wall, a feature that is typically absent in animal cells. However, any classification system is imperfect and some plant cells, such as those of the green alga Dunaliella, lack a rigid cell wall, whereas some animal cells, such as those in the tunicates, have a rigid cellulosic cell wall. The range of specialization and the character of association of plant cells are very wide. In the simplest plant forms, a single cell constitutes a whole organism and carries out all the life functions. In just slightly more complex forms, cells are associated structurally, but the cytoplasm of each cell is separate and each cell appears to carry out the fundamental life functions, although certain ones may be specialized for participation in reproductive processes. In the most advanced plants, cells whose cytoplasms are connected are associated in functionally specialized tissues, and the associated tissues make up various plant organs, such as the leaves, stem, and root. See also: Cell (biology); Plant; Plant anatomy; Plant development; Plant physiology; Plant tissue systems
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