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Why Plant Cells Have Exclusive Rights to Cell Walls

Cell walls are only found in plants because they provide protection and support to the plant cells. The cell wall is a rigid and non-living structure made up of cellulose that surrounds the cell membranes of plant cells.

This structure plays a vital role in plant growth and development. Plants are easily distinguishable from other living organisms due to their unique and essential features, such as the presence of chloroplasts, vascular tissues, and cell walls. The cell wall is a significant feature that gives plants their strength, shape, and protection from mechanical stress, pests, and diseases.

This structure also allows plants to withstand harsh environmental conditions such as high winds and extreme temperatures. Although some bacteria and fungi also possess cell walls, the composition is different from that of plant cell walls. In this article, we will explore the functions and characteristics of the cell walls found exclusively in plants.

Why Plant Cells Have Exclusive Rights to Cell Walls


The Structure And Composition Of Plant Cell Walls

Plant cell walls are a crucial part of a plant’s structure, providing the rigidity necessary for growth and protection against environmental stressors. Unlike animal cells, plant cells have a cell wall made up of complex carbohydrate polymers, including cellulose and pectin.

This section will explore the reasons why cell walls are exclusive to plants, as well as the composition and structure of plant cell walls.

Main Components Of Plant Cell Walls

Plant cell walls are primarily composed of three essential components:

  • Cellulose: Cellulose is the most abundant polymer in the plant cell wall and provides rigidity to the cell. Each cellulose molecule is a linear chain of glucose monomers linked together by β-1,4-glycosidic bonds.
  • Hemicellulose: Hemicellulose is a group of complex carbohydrates that are less rigid than cellulose. They form a matrix between cellulose microfibrils, which helps bind adjacent cells together.
  • Pectin: Pectin is a complex polysaccharide that fills the spaces between cellulose microfibrils and hemicellulose. It is highly hydrated and gives support to the cell wall.

Non-Structural Components Of Plant Cell Walls

In addition to the main components, plant cell walls also contain non-structural components, including:

  • Proteins: A variety of proteins are present in the cell wall that plays various functional and signaling roles.
  • Lipids: Small amounts of lipids are present in the cell wall, playing a role in cellular signaling.
  • Lignin: Lignin is a phenolic polymer that provides strength and rigidity to the cell wall. It is particularly abundant in woody plants.

Plant cell walls are unique to plants, and they are essential structures that provide cell rigidity and protect the plant against environmental stressors. The primary components of plant cell walls include cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin, while non-structural components include proteins, lipids, and lignin.

Significance Of Cell Walls In Plants

Plants are unique living organisms due to the presence of cell walls. These cell walls, made of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, provide a plethora of benefits to plants. Let’s dive into the significance of cell walls in plants:

Protection And Structural Support

One key advantage of cell walls is that they provide protection to plant cells. The thickness and rigidity of the cell wall make it difficult for foreign organisms to penetrate the cells, thereby reducing the chances of infection and disease.

Additionally, cell walls provide structural support to plants, enabling them to maintain their shape despite exposure to environmental factors such as wind and rainfall.

  • Cell walls protect plants from diseases and infections.
  • The thickness and strength of the cell wall help plants maintain their shape against external elements.

Regulation Of Water Uptake And Loss

Cell walls also play a significant role in regulating water uptake and loss in plants. The semi-permeable cell wall allows for selective water absorption and retention. This ability is vital for plants to survive during periods of drought when access to water is limited.

The regulation of water uptake and loss also facilitates the movement of water and nutrients from one cell to another within the plant.

  • Cell walls regulate water uptake and loss in plants.
  • Semi-permeable cell walls allow for selective water absorption and retention, critical for plant survival during droughts.

Facilitating Cell-To-Cell Communication

Finally, cell walls enable cell-to-cell communication in plants. Channels, known as plasmodesmata, allow for the exchange of molecules and information between adjacent plant cells. This communication is essential for coordinating plant growth and response to environmental stimuli.

  • Cell walls facilitate communication between plant cells through channels called plasmodesmata.
  • Plasmodesmata allow the exchange of molecules and information, critical for plant growth and response to environmental stimuli.

Cell walls are critical to the survival and growth of plants. They provide protection, structural support, regulate water uptake and loss, and facilitate cell-to-cell communication.

Why Plant Cells Have Exclusive Rights To Cell Walls

Comparison Of Plant And Animal Cells

Plant and animal cells have many similarities, but they also have fundamental differences. One significant difference is the presence of a cell wall in plant cells that is absent in animal cells. Here, we explore this difference and its importance.

  • Plant cells have a rigid cell wall comprising cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, whereas animal cells have a flexible cell membrane.
  • The size of the plant cell wall is up to 100 times thicker than animal cells’ cell membrane.
  • The plant cell wall provides structural support, protection, and helps in maintaining the shape of the cell.

Evolutionary Advantage Of Plant Cell Walls

The plant cell wall’s evolution provides an advantage for plant life, and here are some of the significant benefits.

  • The plant’s cell wall acts as the first line of defense against environmental damage like physical stress, pathogens, and insects. It provides protection against tissue damage and mechanical stress.
  • The cell wall helps in maintaining turgor pressure in the cell. Turgor pressure plays a crucial role in maintaining plant shape, and any changes in it may lead to changes in cell shape, and ultimately, plant morphology.
  • The cell wall creates a diffusion barrier for some molecules, controlling and regulating the passage of essential molecules.

The presence of a cell wall in plant cells provides several benefits: it is the first line of defense against stress, maintains plant’s shape, and regulates essential molecule passage. This feature is exclusive to plant cells and differentiates them from animal cells.

Frequently Asked Questions For Why Are Cell Walls Only Found In Plants

Why Do Plant Cell Walls Exist?

Plant cell walls provide strength to the cell, help maintain its shape, regulate water intake, and protect against pathogens.

What Are Plant Cell Walls Made Of?

Plant cell walls are made up of cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, and lignin.

Can Animals Have Cell Walls Like Plants?

No, animals do not have cell walls like plants. Instead, they have extracellular matrix which functions differently.

How Do Plant Cell Walls Help In Photosynthesis?

Plant cell walls help regulate proper intake of light, co2 and water, ensuring that photosynthesis occurs normally.

Do All Plant Cells Have A Cell Wall?

While most plant cells have a cell wall, some specialized cells such as pollen and embryo cells may not.


As we can see, cell walls are an essential component for structural support and protection in plant cells. They are made up of various complex polysaccharides, such as cellulose, and provide plants with the ability to maintain a rigid and upright form.

The presence of cell walls also allows plants to survive in a diverse range of environments and to withstand various environmental stresses. Furthermore, cell walls play an important role in the transportation of water and nutrients within the plant. While cell walls are not a feature found in animal cells, this important distinction in cellular biology enables both plants and animals to thrive in their respective environments.

Understanding the role of cell walls is not only important for biologists but also for those interested in sustainability and agriculture. As such, it is vital to continue exploring the complexities of cell walls and their roles through ongoing research and investigation.