Science - Plant Cell Glossary

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Cell

basic unit of life

cell membrane

the thin layer of protein and fat that
surrounds the cell, but is inside the cell wall. The cell
membrane is semipermeable, allowing some cell wall.

cell wall

a thick, rigid membrane that surrounds a
plant cell. This layer of cellulose fiber gives the cell
most of its support and structure. The cell wall also
bonds with other cell walls to form the structure of the
plant.

chloroplast

an elongated or disc-shaped organelle
containing chlorophyll. Photosynthesis (in which energy from sunlight is converted into chemical energy - food) takes place in the chloroplasts

cytoplasm

the jellylike material outside the cell
nucleus in which the organelles are located.

Golgi body

(also called the Golgi apparatus or
Golgi complex) a flattened, layered, sac-like organelle that looks like a stack of pancakes and is located near the nucleus. The Golgi body packages proteins and carbohydrates into membrane-bound vesicles for "export" from the cell.

mitochondrion

spherical to rod-shaped organelles with a double membrane. The inner membrane is
infolded many times, forming a series of projections (called cristae). The mitochondrion converts the energy stored in glucose into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for the cell.

nucleus

a spherical body containing
many organelles, including the
nucleolus. The nucleus controls many of
the functions of the cell (by controlling
protein synthesis) and contains DNA
(in chromosomes). The nucleus is
surrounded by the nuclear membrane.

ribosome

small organelles composed
of RNA-rich cytoplasmic granules that
are sites of protein synthesis.

Endoplasmic reticulum

While the
function of the nucleus is to act as
the cell brain, the ER functions as a
packaging system. It does not work
alone. The ER works closely with the
Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, RNA,
mRNA, and tRNA. It creates a network
of membranes found through the whole
cell. The ER may also look different
from cell to cell, depending on the cell's
function.

vacuole

a large, membrane-bound
space within a plant cell that is filled
with fluid. Most plant cells have a single
vacuole that takes up much of the cell. It
helps maintain the shape of the cell.

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