Plant Cell Wall


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Plant Cell Wall
Plant cell walls. The drawing shows several cells, each with a cell wall, large vacuole, a nucleus, and several chloroplasts and mitochondria. The TEM shows the cell walls where two cells come together. The multilayered partition between plant cells consists of adjoining walls individually secreted by the cells.

Source: Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology (p. 118). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

Plant Cell Wall (Campbell Biology)

The cell wall is an extracellular structure of plant cells. This is one of the features that distinguishes plant cells from animal cells. The wall protects the plant cell, maintains its shape, and prevents excessive uptake of water. On the level of the whole plant, the strong walls of specialized cells hold the plant up against the force of gravity. Prokaryotes, fungi, and some unicellular eukaryotes also have cell walls.

Plant cell walls are much thicker than the plasma membrane, ranging from 0.1 µm to several micrometers. The exact chemical composition of the wall varies from species to species and even from one cell type to another in the same plant, but the basic design of the wall is consistent. Microfibrils made of the polysaccharide cellulose are synthesized by an enzyme called cellulose synthase and secreted to the extracellular space, where they become embedded in a matrix of other polysaccharides and proteins. This combination of materials, strong fibers in a “ground substance” (matrix), is the same basic architectural design found in steel-reinforced concrete and in fiberglass.

A young plant cell first secretes a relatively thin and flexible wall called the primary cell wall. Between primary walls of adjacent cells is the middle lamella, a thin layer rich in sticky polysaccharides called pectins. The middle lamella glues adjacent cells together. (Pectin is used in cooking as a thickening agent in jams and jellies.) When the cell matures and stops growing, it strengthens its wall. Some plant cells do this simply by secreting hardening substances into the primary wall. Other cells add a secondary cell wall between the plasma membrane and the primary wall. The secondary wall, often deposited in several laminated layers, has a strong and durable matrix that affords the cell protection and support. Wood, for example, consists mainly of secondary walls. Plant cell walls are usually perforated by channels between adjacent cells called plasmodesmata.


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


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