Where are vacuoles located in the animal cell?

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Depending upon the definitions being used, we might say that vacuoles are not located in the animal cell at all.

Many textbooks recognize that membrane-bound storage and transport spaces are necessary in both plant and animal cells. Many of these structures change slightly in terms of their function, contents and exact composition depending upon their size. One definition considers vesicles to be the smallest form of membrane-bound transport, with vacuoles being the largest, being defined as plant-only structures which occupy more than 30% of the cell. According to these terms, vacuoles are simply very large versions of vesicles.

However, other definitions consider vacuoles to be the proper term for membrane-bound storage spaces of any size, and therefore they should be found in both plants and animals, with only their sizes and relative functions being evaluated as a difference between them. 

So, depending upon the definitions being used, the answer to this question is either;

  • Vacuoles are not found in animal cells

or:

  • Vacuoles in the animal cell are synonymous with vesicles, and can be found virtually anywhere in the cytoplasm, but especially near membrane-bound regions such as the Golgi, ER, or cell membrane.
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