Plant structure and function

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1 Plant structure and function Have you ever considered where your food comes from? Fruits and vegetables come from plants, but what about meat, fats, dairy products and junk food? Meat comes from animals (mainly cattle, sheep and poultry) as do dairy products and some fats. These animals eat plants. Junk foods are mainly made up of fat, sugar and flour. Lipids (fats and oils) come from animals or plants (eg. canola oil), while sugar and flour come from plants. So you can see that plants are essential for our lives. They transform the Sun s energy into a form of energy able to fuel our bodies. The more we know about the structure of plants and their functions, the more we can improve on plant health, growth and yields. Plants are organisms You, your pets, the plants around your house and your friends are all made up of cells. Cells are the smallest units of life. All living things are made up of cells and all cells come from other cells. You came from your mother s and father s cells. You are a living thing. All living things are called organisms. Plants are organisms too. Autotrophic organisms Plants are autotrophic organisms. An autotroph is a self feeder it makes its own food by a process called photosynthesis. Plants contain a green chemical called chlorophyll that is needed for photosynthesis to occur. Chlorophyll is stored in parts of a plant cell called chloroplasts. The chloroplasts use energy from sunlight to make food using water (from the soil) and carbon dioxide (from the air). Part 1: Attributes of plants 3

2 1 Colour all the chloroplasts green in the plant cell below. cell membrane chloroplast cytoplasm nucleus cell wall 2 What do chloroplasts do? _ 3 What does the term autotroph mean? Give an example of an autotrophic organism. _ 4 Are chloroplasts found in the roots, stem and leaves of plants? Explain your answer. Unicellular organisms Some organisms are unicellular. This means that they are only made up of one cell. The single cell exchanges gases with its environment, feeds and gets rid of wastes as a single cell. 4 Plants

3 Here are some examples of unicellular organisms. paramecium diatom euglena amoeba Microscopic unicellularorganisms. Using the following information, circle the unicellular organisms in the diagram above that photosynthesise (make their own food). diatom microscopic single celled photosynthetic algae, living in groups or colonies amoeba single celled organism which moves by pseudopodia to gain food euglena single celled photosynthetic algae paramecium microscopic single celled organism that moves with cilia to find food Multicellular organisms A multicellular organism is made up of different kinds of specialised cells; each kind of cell has a particular role or function that benefits the organism. Each cell in a multicellular organism is dependent on other cells for its survival. You are a multicellular organism. Do you think all your cells are identical? Does a cell in your tongue do the same thing as a bone cell in your leg? Do all your cells do the same things? You have specialised cells in your lungs which absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Other cells in your stomach assist in the digestion of food. Cells in your kidneys filter out wastes. Cells in your heart work together to pump blood around your body. Cells in your bones help you to stand up straight and move around. As you can see, your body is made up of many different cells and each kind has a different role. Most plants are multicellular organisms too. Part 1: Attributes of plants 5

4 1 Define a unicellular organism and give an example. 2 Define a multicellular organism and give an example. Cells in multicellular organisms are organised so that the needs of individual cells are met, and so that individual cells contribute to the survival of the entire organism. Similar cells group together to form tissue, different kinds of tissues form organs and different organs make up organ systems. Tissues, organs and organ systems Read these definitions. tissue organ organ system a group of cells of the same type with the same function; for example, phloem part of an animal or plant forming a structural and functional unit, which is made up of one or more tissues; for example, a leaf a group of organs that function together as a unit; for example, the vascular system The examples given above are all parts of multicellular plants. You have tissues, organs and organ systems in your body too. What is an example of a tissue in your body? Can you name an organ in your body? Have you heard of the digestive system or the respiratory system? These are examples of organ systems. An example of an organ is your heart and an example of a tissue is smooth muscle. 6 Plants

5 1 Complete the table below about tissues, organs and organ systems. Structure Definition Example tissue part of an animal or plant forming a structural and functional unit, which is made up of one or more tissues vascular system Plant cells require oxygen, glucose, water and carbon dioxide for growth and development. Not every cell has direct access to all of these. Other cells are responsible for transporting these materials to cells that need them. For example, cells in the phloem transport food, as a sugar called glucose, to cells throughout the plant. Guard cells in stomates are responsible for supplying carbon dioxide to mesophyll cells inside leaves so that photosynthesis can occur. Xylem vessels transport water from the roots to all cells in the plant. cuticle epidermis palisade mesophyll tissue spongy mesophyll tissue vascular bundle (xylem and phloem) stomate cell wall air space Leaf cross section showing different cell and tissue types. This diagram is adapted from Messel, H Science for High School Students, University of Sydney, Sydney cells containing chloroplasts 8 Plants

6 2 The cells in the diagram on the previous page can all be found in the plant organ called a leaf. a) Shade green the tissue in the leaf composed of mesophyll cells. b) Shade red the vascular tissue made from xylem and phloem cells. c) How many stomates can you see in the diagram? 3 Following are some examples of specialised cells in plants. Next to each type of cell, write the function from the paragraph above. sieve tube sieve plate a) phloem cell pore in sieve plate thin tube wall b) guard cells in a stomate guard cell chloroplast c) mesophyll cell nucleus cell wall Part 1: Attributes of plants 9

7 Plants and photosynthesis Plants and photosynthesis are words that go together. Why? A very important feature of plants is that they are autotrophic; that is, they make their own food and they use the process of photosynthesis. Here is the overall word equation for photosynthesis: carbon dioxide + water sunlight chlorophyll glucose + oxygen The substances on the left of the arrow (carbon dioxide and water) go into the plant; they are the reactants for photosynthesis. The substances on the right of the arrow (glucose and oxygen) are the products formed during photosynthesis. For photosynthesis to occur, carbon dioxide must move from the air into cells in the leaves. Water is absorbed through the roots and carried through vascular tissue to the leaves. Then oxygen formed during photosynthesis is released into the air. Glucose formed is used by the plant as an energy source or converted into other chemicals for the plant. 1 Your body uses the food you eat for energy. Your body needs this energy to think, walk around, grow, repair bruises and cuts and many other things. What do you think plants use energy for? List as many things as you can. 14 Plants

8 2 Label the diagram below to show the substances involved in photosynthesis that move in or out of the plant. 3 Where does photosynthesis occur in a plant? 4 Where does a plant absorb water? 5 What provides the energy for photosynthesis? 6 What does a plant make during photosynthesis that makes it autotrophic (self feeding)? Part 1: Attributes of plants 15

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