Food Vacuole

Origin and importance of Food Vacuole

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 a Food Vacuole?

So, let us understand food vacuole in a detailed way.


In biological terms, Vacuoles are defined as space in a cell that is fully empty of cytoplasm.  Food Vacuoles are sacs that are enclosed that are membrane-bound. It is present in all fungal cells and plants and some proteins, bacterial cells, and animals. Food Vacuole is present in unicellular protozoans. Plasmodium, Amoeba, etc. are called unicellular protozoans. The space in a cell is fully empty of cytoplasm. Food vacuoles are lined membranes and filled with fluid.

 

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. 

 

Large vacuoles are primarily found in 3 genera of filamentous bacteria of sulfur. They are the Beggiatoa, Thioploca, and Thiomargarita. Food vacuoles also contain sap, water, excretory products, and other materials which are not useful for the cell.

 

How is Food Vacuole Formed?

  • Food vacuoles are formed by the fusion of phagosomes and endosomes 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 endosomes 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 cyto pharyngeal 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.

 

 Types & Functions of Vacuoles

 There are mainly 4 types of Vacuoles. They are as follows:

  1. Contractile Vacuoles: These types of vacuoles are mainly found in freshwater. They have a highly collapsible and expandable membrane. They are connected to a few canals having water with or without waste products for the purpose of feeding.

  2. Air Vacuole: Air vacuoles are also known as gas vacuoles and pseudo-vacuoles. They are found only in Prokaryotes. It is surrounded by a common membrane. It contains an enormous number of sub-microscopic vesicles. Here, each and every vesicle is surrounded by members of protein and metabolic gases are enclosed in them. The primary functions of air vacuoles are the storage of gases, protection from harmful radiations, buoyancy and mechanical strength.

  3. Sap Vacuoles: These are other types of food vacuoles having several transport systems to pass different kinds of substances. In animal and young plant cells, there are numerous small sap vacuoles that are fused to form a single large central vacuole.

  4. Food Vacuoles: Food vacuoles are formed as a result of the fusion of lysosomes and phagosomes. They perform different kinds of functions such as ingestion, storage, and excretion of excess water. It is mainly present in unicellular protozoans which includes plasmodium, amoeba, etc.

 

Functions of Food Vacuole

There are many functions that are performed by food vacuole. The important functions are listed below:

  • 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.

  • Food vacuole performs the metabolic function in a way that succulent plants open their stomata and take the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at night. This will be converted then to malic acid and stored in vacuoles until the next day. In the daytime, light energy can be used to convert it to sugar.

  • They also perform homeostatic functions in cells of plants that are subjected to wide variations in the environment.

  • Molecules can be stored in plant vacuoles and act as a storage organelle for both nutrients and waste products.

  • They also perform functions in fungal cells which include the homeostasis of cell pH and storing of amino acids. In animal cells, they tend to perform by helping in exocytosis and endocytosis.

  • Food vacuoles allow the organs or germinating plants to grow fastly because of the increase in size.

FAQs on Food Vacuole

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

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.

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.

3. How many types of vacuoles are present?

There are mainly 4 types of vacuoles present. They are sap, contractile, food and air vacuoles. Sap vacuoles have transport systems mainly used to pass substances. Contractile vacuoles are found in freshwater and connected to a few canals for the purpose of feeding. Food vacuoles are responsible for functions such as ingestion, storage and excretion of excess water. It is formed as a result of the fusion of lysosomes and phagosomes. Air vacuoles have sub-microscopic vesicles and are only found in Prokaryotes. The primary function of the air vacuole is the storage of gases.

4. What are the primary functions performed by food vacuoles?

The primary functions performed by food vacuoles include ingestion, storage, digestion, expulsion, and excretion of excess water. In addition to this, they perform a metabolic function in which the plants open their stomata and inhale the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the night and convert it to malic acid and again convert it to sugar during day time. It also allows germinating plants to grow fastly and also perform a number of functions in fungal and animal cells. In cells of plants, food vacuoles perform homeostatic functions.

5. Mention some facts about food vacuole.

Plasmodium and amoeba are unicellular protozoans. The food vacuole is present in unicellular protozoans. Food Vacuoles are sacs that are enclosed that are membrane-bound. It is present in all fungal cells and plants and some proteins, bacterial cells, and animals. Large vacuoles are primarily found in 3 genera of filamentous bacteria of sulfur. They are the Beggiatoa, Thioploca, and Thiomargarita. Food vacuoles also contain sap, water, excretory products, and other materials which are not useful for the cell.

6. Explain the formation of food vacuole.

The name vacuole is derived from the word “Vacuum”.The fusion of phagosomes and endosomes to lysosomes leads to the formation of food vacuoles. Through the formation of food vacuole with the help of pseudopodia, food is taken inside the body. Both the vesicles of phagosomes and endosomes fuse with lysosomes by pinching off inside the cell and then they move towards the cell. After that, the formation of food vacuoles takes place. During this process, the food is digested and absorbed by cytoplasm and waste materialism ejected by cytoproct or anus.

7. From where the study material of food vacuole for the NEET exam can be downloaded?

Students can download the study material of food vacuole for the NEET exam from Vedantu’s official website and app free of cost. The study materials include meaning, types, formation and functions of food vacuole. Students can also get information about the NEET exam, the registration process of NEET. On Vedantu’s official website, there is the complete syllabus, weekly test assignments, and support of board exams. Its materials are all available in 11 languages which makes it easy for students from any state.

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