Where is the vacuole located in the animal cell?

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trophyhunter1's profile pic

trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The region between the nuclear envelope and the plasma membrane is the cytoplasm. Within the cytoplasm of a eukaryotic cell are many different membrane bound organelles including vacuoles. Animals, protists, fungi and plants are composed of eukaryotic cells. Vacuoles are large vesicles that are derived from the Endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus. They are membrane- bound sacs and serve many functions such as storage.

Animal cell vacuoles are much smaller and more numerous than plant cell vacuoles, because in plant cells, they store a great deal of water. If an animal cell performs phagocytosis, a food vacuole forms and fuses with a lysosome(containing enzymes) for furthering processing. This is an example of endocytosis where in this case, a small area of the plasma membrane sinks inward to form a pocket. Materials that were outside the cell(including nutrients) will be taken in as the pocket eventually deepens and pinches inward to form a vesicle. This transport vesicle will carry nutrients from the surroundings into the cell to become a food vacuole. Vacuoles are formed by the fusion of many of these vesicles and their size varies due to the needs of the cell.

In exocytosis, animal cells are able to transport proteins and lipid secretions from inside the cell because storage vacuoles can store, transport and dispose of these chemicals when they attach to the plasma membrane and release their contents to the extracellular environment.

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megamind-616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Vacuoles are membrane-bound organelles of eukaryotic cells (cells that contain a nucleus). Vacuoles are like large storage containers within a cell. Vacuoles hold cellular waste and isolate materials that may be harmful to the cell. Eventually, these wastes are excreted out of  the cell. 

When looking at a diagram of a plant cell, you have probably noticed one organelle that is much larger than the other organelles and centrally located. This is the plant's central vacuole. Sometimes, plant vacuoles can take up nearly half the interior volume of a cell! Plant vacuoles are much larger than animal vacuoles.

Plant vacuoles are important in storing water for the plant. This water is needed to help support the cell. As the vacuole is filled with fluid, turgor pressure builds. This turgor pressure helps to "inflate" a cell, much like the air in a raft for the pool, so that the cell becomes rigid. Should the vacuole lack fluids, then the cell (and plant) becomes "flimsy". This is why plants wilt. 

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acorn13's profile pic

acorn13 | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Vacuoles are the small cavities that are filled with cytoplasm. They are considered the storage center of the cell and can hold food or nutrients for the cell but also waste products (such as dead bacteria cells, water, or dust) to protect the rest of the cell from contamination. Vacuoles are mostly composed of water and amino acids with a membrane made of phospholipids. 

In plants, vacuoles are much larger than in animal cells and are in a central location. In animal cells, the vacuoles can be anywhere in the cell's cytoplasm except in the nucleus or cell membrane. In fact, vacuoles move around in the cell in order to dispose of any waste they hold. When the vacuole stores enough waster, it moves to the cell membrane where it then merges with it and pushes waste out of the cell. 

Not all animal cells have vacuoles, but most do. 

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