Food Vacuole


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The term vacuole is derived from the word “Vacuum”. The vacuole is a closed sac that is made up of membranes and enzymes. These vacuoles are distributed throughout the cell’s cytoplasm. Vacuoles perform various kinds of functions such as storage of food, disposal of waste, growth, and protection. Food vacuole meaning is as follows: a vacuole which stores food. Food vacuoles are present in smaller sizes in animal cells compared to plant cells.

There 4 different types included in the vacuole: 

  1. Sap vacuole

  2. Contractile vacuole

  3. Food vacuole

  4. Air vacuole

What is Food Vacuole?

As per the food vacuole definition, it is an enclosed large sac present in the cell. It can also be defined as a specific type of digestive vacuole that can be found in microorganisms. 

Food vacuoles are found in cells of plants, protists, animals and fungi. Food vacuoles are circular portions of the plasma membrane that capture or encircle food particles when they enter the cell. When food particles are entered into the food vacuole the food gets digested and stored as energy. This energy is utilized by the cell. 

How is Food Vacuole Formed?

  • Food vacuoles are formed by the fusion of phagosomes and pinosomes to lysosomes. Protozoans like Amoeba take their food by a process called phagocytosis or pinocytosis. 

  • In phagocytosis, the surrounding pseudopodia traps the food particles and this food engulfs it inside the cell forming a vesicle called phagosomes. 

  • In pinocytosis, the plasma membrane present in the cell forms invagination and traps the droplet of extracellular fluid by forming a vesicle known as pinosomes.

  • The phagosomes and pinosomes move inside the cell and move towards the center of the cell. These cells fuse with the lysosomes to form the food vacuoles. Then the food is digested and gets diffused into the cytoplasm. The waste material is removed out as the vacuole again merges with the membrane.

  • In Paramecium, when the membrane of the discoid vesicle fuses with the cytopharyngeal membrane, the food vacuoles are formed at the cytopharynx. Then the food is digested and absorbed by the cytoplasm. The waste material is ejected from the cytoproct or anus.

What is the Function of the Food Vacuole?

The food vacuole functions are as follow: 

  • Food vacuoles contain an enzyme called hydrolyzing enzyme which helps in the digestion of food.

  • The cell membrane forms a curve to allow the passage of food particles, when the food is captured completely inside the membrane it pushes into the cell.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why is the Vacuole the Most Important Organelle in the Cell?

Ans: In both the plant and animal cells vacuole acts as a garbage collector as it collects and removes all the waste. If the waste products are not removed from the cell, they may contaminate the cell which leads to death. In-plant cells vacuole acts as a lunch bag, as it stores the nutrients and water. Hence vacuole is the most important organelle in the cell.

2. Define Food Vacuole.

Ans: The food vacuole is an enclosed large sac present in the cell. It can also be defined as a specific type of digestive vacuole that can be found in microorganisms.