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Difference Between Plant Vacuoles and Animal Vacuoles

Main Difference

The main difference between Plant Vacuoles and Animal Vacuoles is that Plant Vacuoles are typically single in number and larger in size, whereas the Animal Vacuoles are more in number and smaller in size.

Plant Vacuoles vs. Animal Vacuoles

The plant vacuoles in plant cells referred to as a cavity that is present inside the cytoplasm and is covered by a single unit membrane and consists of cell sap. On the other hand, the animal vacuoles in animal cells are referred to as a cavity present within the cytoplasm, which usually consists of food, fluid, or metabolic wastes.

The plant vacuoles in plant cells are considered permanent structures; on the contrary, the animal vacuoles in animal cells may be considered as temporary structures.

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The position of the plant vacuoles in plant cells is usually at the center, whereas the animal vacuoles can be distributed all over the animal cell. The main purpose of plant vacuole is to store water; on the flip side, the main function of the animal vacuole in animal cells is to store ions, nutrients, waste products, and mainly water.

In the plant cells, the plant vacuoles are important in maintaining the turgor pressure. On the other hand, in animal cells, animal vacuoles are widely important in the process of exocytosis and endocytosis. The mass of the plant vacuole is usually large, and it may contain almost 90% space of the plant cell; on the other hand, the animal vacuole is considered smaller as compared to the plant vacuole.

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Comparison Chart

Plant VacuolesAnimal Vacuoles
The plant vacuoles are single membranous structures present within the cytoplasm of the plant cellsThe animal vacuoles are a cavity that occurs in the cytoplasm of the animal cells and consists of fluid, food, and metabolic wastes
Size and Number
A single large vacuole is present in plant cellsMay contain several small vacuoles
Occurrence
Plant cell often consist of a vacuoleThe animal cells very rarely contain vacuoles
Permanent/Temporary Structures
The plant vacuoles are considered permanent structuresThe animal vacuoles may be considered as temporary structures
Distribution Within the Cell
The position of the plant vacuoles is usually at the centerThe animal vacuoles can be distributed all over the animal cell
Storing Elements
The plant vacuole stores waterThe animal vacuole in animal cells stores ions, nutrients, waste products, and main water
Importance
The plant vacuoles are important in maintaining the turgor pressureThe animal vacuoles are widely important in the process of exocytosis and endocytosis
Space
The mass of the plant vacuole is usually large, and it may contain almost 90% space of the plant cellThe animal vacuole is considered smaller as compared to the plant vacuole and contains a small space in animal cells
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What are Plant Vacuoles?

The plant vacuoles considered as a cavity that are usually present within the cytoplasm of the plant cells, covered by a single membrane, and consist of cell sap in plant cells. The single membrane which surrounds the plant vacuoles is known as tonoplast.

The cell sap of the plant vacuole contains water and various other materials such as salts, enzymes, sugars and carbohydrates, lipids, and ions. The plant vacuoles mainly store water and include as much as 90% of the total volume of the cytoplasm of the cell in mature plants. The vacuoles of plants may also consist of sucrose, amino acids, proteins, mineral salts, and many other waste materials.

The plant vacuoles consist of water-soluble pigments such as anthocyanin. The important role of the plant vacuole is to preserve the turgor pressure of the plant cell because the plasma membrane of the cell pressed beside the cell wall through the turgor pressure.

The plant cells get the water inside their vacuoles through the process of osmosis. The plant vacuole also helps in maintaining the shape of the cell during severe dehydration. The vacuoles are vital for the conservation of the osmotic concentration of the cell.

The digestive enzymes present in plant vacuoles mainly serve as lysosomes. One of the most important roles of the plant vacuoles is the detoxification of heavy metals that are present inside the cell.

What are Animal Vacuoles?

Animal vacuoles considered as the cavity which is normally present within the cytoplasm, mainly consist of food, fluid, and various other metabolic wastes. The animal cells mostly consist of several vacuoles in a smaller size.

The food vacuoles in the animal cells are those who ingested the food materials. Many unicellular organisms mainly use their vacuoles as an excretory organelle.

The most important function of animal vacuoles includes the endocytosis and exocytosis. Some animal vacuoles are produced through endocytosis, while some others are formed through Golgi bodies, which are mainly used to excrete waste substances through the process of exocytosis.

The exocytosis is the process by which vacuoles transfer material out of the cell. Endocytosis is considered the inverse of the exocytosis in which vacuoles aids in bringing the matter inside the animal cells.

The digestive enzymes which are present in vacuoles mainly help in the digestion of the ingested food. Some pathogenic cells, for example, bacteria, are usually destroyed or killed by fusing with lysosomes of the animal cells.

Key Differences

  1. A plant vacuole in plant cells is a cavity present within the cytoplasm of the cell, and it is a single membranous structure and contains the cell sap; on the other hand, the animal vacuole in animal cells is present inside the cytoplasm which consists of the fluid, food, and other various metabolic wastes.
  2. The cells of the plant contain a distinct large vacuole; on the contrary, the cells of the animal contain many small-sized vacuoles.
  3. The plant vacuole is known as the permanent structure in most of the cases in the plant cells, whereas the animal vacuole is sometimes known to be a temporary structure in animal cells.
  4. The role of plant vacuole is to maintain the turgor pressure of the plant cell; on the contrary, the main role of an animal cell is that it is important in exocytosis and endocytosis.
  5. The plant vacuole takes up about 90% space of the plant cell, while the animal vacuole is smaller in size and contains a little space of the animal cell.
  6. The plant vacuole can be found at the center of the cell; on the other hand, the animal vacuole is distributed all over the place in the animal cell.

Conclusion

The above discussion concludes that the Plant Vacuoles are single, large, prominent structure, and its main function is to maintain the turgor pressure of the plant cell, while The Animal Vacuoles are a cavity that occurs in the cytoplasm of the animal cells and consists of fluid, food, and metabolic wastes.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White