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Difference Between Epidermal Cells and Cork Cells

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Plant Tissue: An Introduction

Have you ever thought about what protects plants from adverse conditions or insects as these plants can't run in a dangerous situation? They have epidermis and cork cells to protect plant cells and tissues. The epidermis and cork are the outermost layer of the plant to provide protection.

They secret wax-like substances called the cuticle. It protects plants from water loss. These outermost layers also regulate gaseous exchange in plants.

What are Epidermal Cells?

The epidermis is the outer layer of the plant parts. It covers all the parts of the primary plant body. Epidermal cells are the primary component of the epidermis. In stem appendages, trichomes are also epidermal tissues. In leaves and stems, guard cells are also made of epidermal cells. The epidermis is mainly composed of parenchyma cells.

Functions of Epidermal Cells

  • The epidermis protects plants from water loss through transpiration because of the presence of a thick waxy layer called the cuticle.

  • The epidermis has root hairs that absorb water and minerals from the soil due to the large surface area.

  • It protects the plant from mechanical injury and other infections.

  • Epidermis also controls the gaseous exchange in plants.

  • It also controls or regulates the metabolic secretions in plants.

  • It also secretes various metabolic substances on the plant surface.

What are Cork Cells?

Cork is the outer protective covering of a tree. These are dead cells and do not have intercellular space. Cork cells are one of the parts of the bark, made of multiple layers of cells. When the bark of plant cells becomes old then it will be replaced by a secondary meristem.

Functions of Cork Cells

The following are the important functions of cork cells:

  • Like epidermal cells, these cells also prevent water loss from the plants.

  • It also protects the plant from various kinds of infections, especially fungal infections.

  • Protect plants from various injuries.

Similarity Between Epidermal Cells and Cork Cells

There are various similarities between epidermal cells and cork cells. Some of the similarities are given below:

  • Both epidermal cells and cork cells are the outermost covering of the plant body.

  • Both epidermal cells and cork cells control water loss from the internal structures of plants. These cells also ensure the correct exchange of air.

  • Both cork cells and epidermal cells lack chloroplast and hence they can't carry out photosynthesis

  • Both these types of cells release water-repellent substances.

Difference Between Epidermal Cells and Cork Cells

We have seen the similarities between epidermal cells and cork cells. But there are also many differences between these two types of cells. Some of the differences are given below:

Epidermal Cells

Cork Cells

Epidermal cells or tissues form the outermost covering of the primary plant body.

Cork cells form the outermost covering of the root and stem after secondary growth.

These types of cells are found in both primary and secondary growth.

These types of cells are found in only secondary growth.

Found in leaves, stems, and other immature plant parts of the plants.

These types of cells are found only in mature parts of the plants such as in the secondary stem and secondary root.

These are living cells.

These are dead cells.

Their secretion is cutin.

Their secretion is suberin.

These occur in all types of plants, in monocotyledons and dicotyledons.

They occur only in dicot plants in which there is only secondary growth.

These are made of only a single layer of cells.

They made of multiple layers.

Interesting Facts

  • Trees get 90% of their nutrition from the environment and only 10% from soil.

  • The wood is made of dead tissues that only provide mechanical support to plant tissue.

  • Stems of all plants are not hard, some are soft stems too.

  • Some plants grow from leaves. For eg., the African Violet is the plant that allows new plants to grow from leaves.

Important Questions

Q1. What is another name for cork?

Ans: The other name for cork is a phellem. It is a meristematic tissue that makes new cells through the process of mitotic divosion. Along with phelloderm and phellogen, it makes periderm.

Q2. Is cork water resistant?

Ans: Yes, cork is water resistant due to the presence of wax on the plant, which makes it water resistant. Due to its water-resistant property, it is used in many industries.

Q3. Why are epidermal cells and cork cells called protective?

Ans: Cork cells and epidermal cells are called protective tissues because they protect the plant from injury, water loss, and pathogenic attacks. They protect the plant from mechanical stresses.

Key Features

  • In this article, we have studied epidermal cells and cork cells.

  • These types of cells are present on the outer surface of the plant body.

  • Their main functions are to protect from mechanical stresses, and injury, prevent pathogens, and microbes, regulate gaseous exchange, and prevent water loss.

  • There are various similarities between epidermal cells and cork cells, such as they do not have chloroplast, and release water-repellant dance.

  • The differences between cork cells and epidermal cells are that cork cells form the outermost part of the secondary plant body, whereas epidermal cells form the covering of the primary plant body.

Practice Questions

Q1. How is cork formed from the epidermis?

Q2. What is cork and its function?

Q3. How is cork tissue formed?

Q4. Is cork a permanent tissue?

Q5. What is the epidermis?

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FAQs on Difference Between Epidermal Cells and Cork Cells

1. What are the types of tissue in plants?

There are mainly three types of tissues in plants: Epidermal tissues, ground tissues, and vascular tissues. 

  • Epidermal tissues form the outer covering tissue of plants. Root hairs and trichomes are the epidermal appendages 

  • Ground Tissues  - They make the various parts of the plant, their main function is photosynthesis (if made of parenchyma cells), storage of food, and providing support to the soft parts of the plants ( if made of collenchyma cells)

  • Vascular Tissues - These are the xylem and phloem. Transport water, minerals, and foods to various plant parts.

2. What is differentiation?

Differentiation is a process of converting the meristematic tissues of plants into permanent tissue. In this metastatic tissues stop division and are modified to do some permanent functions.

Mainly old meristematic tissues change their cell size, and structure and start to perform one function for the remaining part of their life. For example, protoplasmic tissue matures and loses its property of division, and converts to tracheary elements.

3. Are stomata epidermal cells?

Stomata are the openings in the epidermal cells of leaves and stems. Stomata help in the gaseous exchange between plants and the environment. Along with it these cells also regulate water loss from plants in the form of transpiration. The opening and closing of stomata are regulated by the turgidity of guard cells.

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