A vacuole is an example of a eukaryotic organelle. Vacuoles act as storage tanks within cells. Vacuoles may store water, nutrients, or wastes. Therefore, vacuoles may be described as looking like “bubbles”.
In order to fully understand the explanation provided above, one needs a clear understanding of the terms “eukaryotic” and “organelle”. Therefore, these terms are defined below.
- Eukaryotic cells are cells that contain a nucleus and organelles.
- Organelles are membrane-bound compartments within eukaryotic cells that have specialized purposes to aid in the survival of the cell.
Plant and animal cells are both eukaryotic. The vacuoles within plant cells tend to be larger than the vacuoles of animal cells. This is because the water that is stored in a vacuole of a plant cell causes the vacuole to expand and push against the cell wall of the plant cell. The resulting pressure is what helps to support and hold a plant upright. As the water inside the vacuoles a plant’s cells lessens, the plant may begin to wilt.