Beetroot Essay

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The outermost layer is the cell wall, which is present only in plant cells and is made up of a carbohydrate called cellulose and also has other protein substances embedded within it. The cell wall is a rigid layer and gives structural stability to the cell and also limits the permeability of large substances into and out of the cell. Within the cell wall, surrounding the cytoplasm is the cell membrane which is a semi-permeable membrane consisting of a phospholipid bilayer. The bilayer consists of phospholipids which arrange themselves so that the hydrophobic (‘water hating’) tails are shielded from the surrounding water. The heads of the molecules are hydrophilic (‘water loving’) and face the water. Overall, the cell membrane acts to selectively allow substances to move into and out of the cell and maintains the cell potential. Proteins within the membrane act as molecular signals allowing the cells to communicate with each other and other substances outside the cell. About 70% of the cell membrane is actually protein. The cytoplasm of the cell has a number of organelles, although the one that I will focus on is the vacuole. Vacuoles act to store food for the plant and also assist in structural stability of the plant along with the cell wall. The vacuoles in plant cells are normally larger than those found in animal cells and contain a fluid called, cell sap. This fluid is rich in nutrients and other substances and is surrounded by a membrane called the tonoplast, separating it from the cytoplasm. The tonoplast is similar in composition to the cell membrane. In Beetroot cells, the vacuoles also contain pigments called, ‘betalain’ which are red pigments, whose function is not entirely clear. They replace pigments called ‘anthocyanins’ in higher plant species such as the beetroot. When the beetroot cylinders are heated, it is this pigment that leaks out of the cell

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