Related Posts:

Source: Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology (p. 108). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

Campbell Biology

Vacuoles are large vesicles derived from the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus. Thus, vacuoles are an integral part of a cell’s endomembrane system. Like all cellular membranes, the vacuolar membrane is selective in transporting solutes; as a result, the solution inside a vacuole differs in composition from the cytosol.

Vacuoles perform a variety of functions in different kinds of cells. Food vacuoles, formed by phagocytosis, have already been mentioned. Many unicellular eukaryotes living in fresh water have contractile vacuoles that pump excess water out of the cell, thereby maintaining a suitable concentration of ions and molecules inside the cell. In plants and fungi, certain vacuoles carry out enzymatic hydrolysis, a function shared by lysosomes in animal cells. (In fact, some biologists consider these hydrolytic vacuoles to be a type of lysosome.) In plants, small vacuoles can hold reserves of important organic compounds, such as the proteins stockpiled in the storage cells in seeds. Vacuoles may also help protect the plant against herbivores by storing compounds that are poisonous or unpalatable to animals. Some plant vacuoles contain pigments, such as the red and blue pigments of petals that help attract pollinating insects to flowers.

Mature plant cells generally contain a large central vacuole, which develops by the coalescence of smaller vacuoles. The solution inside the central vacuole, called cell sap, is the plant cell’s main repository of inorganic ions, including potassium and chloride. The central vacuole plays a major role in the growth of plant cells, which enlarge as the vacuole absorbs water, enabling the cell to become larger with a minimal investment in new cytoplasm. The cytosol often occupies only a thin layer between the central vacuole and the plasma membrane, so the ratio of plasma membrane surface to cytosolic volume is sufficient, even for a large plant cell.


Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.