Plant Mechanics Inspire Engineers To Create New Materials


Plant Mechanics

Plant Mechanics: Plants have a wide variety of mechanical properties that may inspire engineers to design new materials.
Lorna Gibson, the Matoula S. Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT says:
‘If you look at engineering materials, we have lots of different types, thousands of materials that have more or less the same range of properties as plants. But here the plants are, doing it arranging just four basic constituents. So maybe there’s something you can learn about the design of engineered materials.”

Plant Mechanics Source

Engineers claim that some plants such as bamboo, maples, palm trees or potatoes inspire them, being a great example of precise engineering on a microscopic scale. The way their cell walls are arranged and what they’re made of, some plants may be sturdy as an oak, while others as flimsy as a reed.

Plant Mechanics Source

To Lorna Gobson, many cell walls’ components resemble certain manmade materials such as cellulose, hemicellulose, which can be strong and stiff as manufactured polymers. Additionally, cells in woods are aligned similarly to engineering honeycombs, while polyhedral cell configurations found in apples look like industrial foams.

Plant Mechanics Source

Gibson researched plants’ natural mechanics and focused on three main plant materials: oak, cedar and woods, parenchyma cells found in root vegetables and fruits and coconut trees. She and other scientists studies these plants and their cells and analyzed two main mechanical properties in each plant: strength and stiffness.

Plant Mechanics

The Parts Of A Plant Cell

Parts Of A Plant Cell

Parts Of A Plant Cell: Plants are multicellular, eukaryotes organisms. They have membrane-bound organelles. A plant cell has a rigid cell wall, a central vacuole, plasmodesmata and plastids, which make it unique among all other type of eukaryotes cells. Plant cells sustain the photosynthesis process, during which oxygen is produced.

Plant cells are formed by different parts. All of them play an important role in the proper function of the cell.

Plant Cell Parts

1. Cell membrane

The cell membrane allows waste material to exit the cell. The membrane surrounds the cytoplasm of the cell. It actually forms a barrier between the inside of the cell and the outside area. The cell membrane regulates the movement of materials into and out of the cell. Having under consideration its function, the cell membrane is believed to be in a way similar to the skin.

2. Cell wall

The cell wall surrounds the cell. This is a rigid layer placed externally to the cell membrane. It offers structural support and protection to the entire cell. The cell wall also controls the amount of water that enters the cell. It allows the circulation of minerals and nutrients. The cell wall has the ability to sense the presence of pathogenic microbes, as well, being able to control the development of tissues within the cell.

3. Plasmodesmata

Plasmodesmata are microscopic channels of plants traveling the cell walls. It enables communication within the cell.

4. Tonoplast

The tonoplast surrounds a vacuole. Vacuoles are found in the cytoplasm, being membrane-bound compartments with storage functions.

5. Plastids

Plastids are some of the most important parts of the plant cell. They are responsible with photosynthesis, storage and synthesis.

6. Golgi Complex

Golgi complex is an organelle found in plant cells. It processes macromolecules, including proteins and lipids.

7. Chloroplast, Leucoplast, Chromoplast

Chloroplasts are organelles that conduct photosynthesis. They absorb light. Leucoplasts are plastids that are non-pigmented. Chromoplasts are plastids with role in pigment synthesis and storage.

8. Ribosome, Lysosome

Ribosomes are complexes of RNA and protein. Lysosomes are organelles which contain digestive enzymes.

9. Mitochondrion, Microtubule, Microfilament, Microbody

Mitochondrion is a membrane-enclosed organelle. Microtubules are components of the cytoskeleton. Microfilaments are the smallest filaments of the cytoskeleton. Microbodies are organelles of a globular shape.

10. Cytoplasm, Nucleus, Nuclear envelope

The cytoplasm is a semi-transparent fluid which fills cells. The nucleus contains the cell’s genetic material. The nuclear envelope is formed by two cellular membranes.

Parts Of A Plant Cell

Besides the aforementioned plant cell parts, DNA, chromatin and RNA should also be presented. DNA is the nucleic acid that contains genetic information, chromatin is a complex of DNA and protein, while RNA has an important role in translating genetic information from DNA to proteins.

Parts Of A Plant Cell

Wikipedia has a short page on this topic here.

Taking a Tour Inside A Plant Cell


Inside A Plant Cell

Inside A Plant Cell: In order to properly understand the functionality and the features of the plants, we have to look inside these for answers. That is the main reason why biology classes focus on the presentation of the internal mechanisms of plants in the first place and then move on to larger views. To start with the minimal element of the plant, we have to consider the plant cell. Here is a video that illustrates a tour through the plant cell, from which you can understand its structure and its functionality:



Relevant facts that should be remembered from the video:

  • plant cells and animal cells are somewhat the same, but there are differences between them that set them apart;
  • the cell wall is the first stratum of the cell, which includes and protects all its other elements, and is made from cellulose fibers;
  • the central vacuole regulates the composition of the cell plasm, creates internal pressure and stores different compounds;
  • the chloroplasts are the ones in which the photosyntheses process takes place, for the creation of food for the plant;
  • the mitochondria is the one that breaks sugar molecules and converts them.

If you are looking for more extensive information about the plant cells, that will reveal all there is to know about these, from their origins and evolution, to compositions, classifications and functions, here is a crash course video, which will surely help you understand more and which is presented in a way that will catch all your attention:


Inside A Plant Cell

Plant Cells are Important for Photosynthesis


Plant Cells are Important for Photosynthesis

Plant Cells are Important for Photosynthesis: Cells are the fundamental units of life. Without them, plants, animals and human beings would not exist today. Whether they be unicellular or multicellular life forms, all living organisms are composed of and depend on cells to function properly. Think of it this way: without plants, animals would not have anything to eat and humans would not be able to breathe. In the whole biotope there are not two cells alike. Every cell has a specific role and functions according to certain parameters.

There are two main types of cells:

1. Prokaryotic cells. This type of cell lacks a cell nucleus or any other membrane bound organelles, and live in almost all the environments of the earth.

2. Eukaryotes contain complex structures enclosed within membranes. Most of the eukaryote cells contain DNA, chloroplasts and the Golgi apparatus. This type of cell can be found in complex organisms, such as animals, plants and fungi.

Plant Cells are Important for Photosynthesis
Comparison of Prokaryote and Eukaryote Cells

The Role of Each Cell in Plants

The plant cell provides an excellent starting point for understanding how this type of cell functions and the role it has in a living organism. As a plant grows and matures, each cell becomes specialised. There are a number of important specialised types of plant cells that function on a different level. Some of the most important cells in a plant are:

  • Parenchyma Cells. These cells synthesise and store organic products in the plant. These cells help the plant to go through the process of metabolism.
  • Collenchyma Cells. These cells support the plant during its growth stage. They are important since they help the plant develop even it does not have the hardening agent in their primary walls.
  • Sclerenchyma Cells. These are the cells that help the plant to harden its walls and grow taller and stronger.
  • Water Conducting Cells. They have a support function in plants and represent the mechanism that helps water flow in the plant, in order to provide the necessary nutrients.
  • Sieve Tube Members are the ones that conduct important nutrients, such as sugar, all throughout the plant.

Metabolism of Plant Cells

Plant Cells are Important for Photosynthesis

In order to stay alive people must provide their cells with the proper fuel – AIR. More specifically oxygen. This process has its roots in special plant cells called photosynthetic cells. These cells are found in green plants, phytoplankton and cyanobacteria. During the process of photosynthesis, cells use carbon dioxide and energy from the Sun to make sugar molecules and oxygen. These particular cells contain a special pigment that absorbs light energy. In the presence of carbon dioxide, these cells are able to convert solar energy into energy-rich organic molecules, such as glucose.

Plant Cells are Important for Photosynthesis

Wikipedia has a simple page about our topic here.

Distinctive Features of the Plant Cell

Features of the Plant Cell

Features of the Plant Cell: The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all living organisms, being also the smallest unit of life classified as a living thing. There are two main types of cells: prokaryote and eukaryote. Eukaryotes are organisms whose cells consist of complex structures enclosed within membranes. All species of large complex organisms are considered to be eukaryotes, including plants, animals and fungi. However, the plant cell is quite different and has come distinctive features that makes it very interesting. In order to better understand and learn about it, the cell diagram is very useful, since it illustrates all the cell components. Unlike animal cells, plant cells have a large central vacuole, a cell wall, plasmodesmata, and plastids.

Features of the Plant Cell


The Central Vacuole

The large central vacuole is a structure filled with water and enclosed by a membrane known as the tonoplast. The vacuole is responsible for maintaining the cell’s turgor and for controlling movement of molecules between the cystol and sap. The vacuole also stores useful material and is in charge of waste proteins and organelles digestion. The cell wall is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, and sometimes lignin. The cell wall is secreted by the protoplast on the outside of the cell membrane. Plasmodesmata is a specialized cell to cell communication pathway through which the plasmalemma and endoplasmatic reticulum of surrounding cells are continuous. Probably the most interesting structures of plant cells are the plastids, mainly the chloroplasts. These contain the green colored pigment called chlorophyll which absorbs sunlight and is used by plants to make their own food. This process is called photosynthesis. There are also the chromoplasts, which are in charge of synthesizing and storing pigments. This is how plants get their colors.

Other Organelles…

Other organelles in the plant cell are cell membrane, nuclear membrane, leucoplast, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, lysosomes, ribosomes, nucleus, cytoplasm, DNA, chromatin, RNA, cytoskeleton, and endoplasmatic reticulum. Each and every one of these organelles have their own role and ensure the well-functioning of the cell. There are several specialized plant cell types, such as parenchyma cells, collenchyma cells, sclerenchyma cells, water conducting cells, and sieve tube members. These cells become specialized as the plant matures. As you can see, plant cells are very interesting, especially as their distinctive features set them apart from both animal and fungi cells. With the Internet being at the tip of your fingers, learning more about them is very easy. Hopefully, this cell diagram will also help you in the learning process.