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Schematic of typical animal cell, showing subcellular components. Organelles:
(1) nucleolus
(2) nucleus
(3) ribosome
(4) vesicle
(5) rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER)
(6) Golgi apparatus
(7) Cytoskeleton
(8) smooth ER
(9) mitochondria
(10) vacuole
(11) cytoplasm
(12) lysosome
(13) centrioles
This methylene blue staind aloe vera cell, It has a light staind central portion vacuole surrounded by a vacular membrane tonoplast

A vacuole is a membrane-bound organelle. They are a kind of vesicle. Vacuoles are closed sacs, made of membranes with inorganic or organic molecules inside, such as enzymes. They have no set shape or size, and the cell can change them as it wants. They are in most eukaryotic cells and do many things. They can store waste. Vacuoles and their contents are considered to be distinct from the cytoplasm, and are classified as ergastic according to some people.[1] The solution that fills the vacuole is called cell sap.

What a vacuole does and how important it is depends on what kind of cell they are in. They are much more important in plant and fungus cells than in animal cells. Some common jobs of a vacuole are to:

  • Keep bad things separate from the rest of the cell
  • Hold waste products
  • Hold water in plant cells
  • Keep the internal hydrostatic pressure or turgor steady in a cell
  • Keep an acidic pH on the inside of a cell
  • Hold small molecules
  • Get rid of things the cell does not want
  • Allows plants to hold themselves upright with hydrostatic pressure
  • In seeds, proteins that seeds use to sprout are put in 'protein bodies'. Protein bodies are just vacuoles that are a little bit different from normal. They absorb and release water
  • They throwback waste materiale of cell[2]

Vacuoles are also important in autophagy, keeping a balance between making and getting rid of many things in cells and organisms. They also help with destroying and recycling broken proteins that build up in cells. Thomas Boller [1]and others think that vacuoles help attack bacteria and Robert B Mellor think that some kinds of vacuoles act as a house for symbiotic bacteria. In protists, vacuoles also store and help digest food that the protist ate.[3]

Central vacuole (botany)[change | change source]

vacuoles in aloe vera cells

The central vacuole is a cellular organelle found in plant cells. It is often the largest organelle in the cell. It is surrounded by a membrane and holds materials and wastes. It also keeps the proper pressure in the plant cells, and supports the growing plant.

References[change | change source]

  1. Esau, K. (1965). Plant Anatomy, 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons. 767 pp.
  2. Matile, Phillipe (1993) Chapter 18: Vacuoles, discovery of lysosomal origin in Discoveries in Plant Biology: v. 1 (World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd)
  3. Jezbera Jan, Karel Hornak, Karel Simek (2005). "Food selection by bacterivorous protists: insight from the analysis of the food vacuole by means of fluorescence in situ hybridization". FEMS Microbiology Ecology 52 (3): 351–363. doi:10.1016/j.femsec.2004.12.001. PMID 16329920. 
  • (2003) Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill, Medical Publishing Division, New York