Parenchyma
Overview
Parenchyma is a term used to describe a bulk of a substance. It is used in different ways in animals and in plants.

The term is New Latin
New Latin
The term New Latin, or Neo-Latin, is used to describe the Latin language used in original works created between c. 1500 and c. 1900. Among other uses, Latin during this period was employed in scholarly and scientific publications...

, f. Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 παρέγχυμα - parenkhuma, "visceral flesh", f. παρεγχεῖν - parenkhein, "to pour in" f. para-, "beside" + en-, "in" + khein, "to pour".
The parenchyma are the functional parts of an organ
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

 in the body.
Encyclopedia
Parenchyma is a term used to describe a bulk of a substance. It is used in different ways in animals and in plants.

The term is New Latin
New Latin
The term New Latin, or Neo-Latin, is used to describe the Latin language used in original works created between c. 1500 and c. 1900. Among other uses, Latin during this period was employed in scholarly and scientific publications...

, f. Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 παρέγχυμα - parenkhuma, "visceral flesh", f. παρεγχεῖν - parenkhein, "to pour in" f. para-, "beside" + en-, "in" + khein, "to pour".

In animals

The parenchyma are the functional parts of an organ
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

 in the body. This is in contrast to the stroma
Stroma (animal tissue)
In animal tissue, stroma refers to the connective, supportive framework of a biological cell, tissue, or organ.The stroma in animal tissue is contrasted with the parenchyma.Examples include:* Stroma of iris...

, which refers to the structural tissue of organs, namely, the connective tissues.

In cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

, the parenchyma refers to the actual mutant cells of a single lineage, whereas the stroma is the surrounding connective tissue
Connective tissue
"Connective tissue" is a fibrous tissue. It is one of the four traditional classes of tissues . Connective Tissue is found throughout the body.In fact the whole framework of the skeleton and the different specialized connective tissues from the crown of the head to the toes determine the form of...

 and associated cells that support it.

Early in development the mammalian embryo has three distinct layers: ectoderm
Ectoderm
The "ectoderm" is one of the three primary germ cell layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the mesoderm and endoderm , with the ectoderm as the most exterior layer...

 (external layer), endoderm
Endoderm
Endoderm is one of the three primary germ cell layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm and mesoderm , with the endoderm as the intermost layer...

 (internal layer) and in between those two layers the middle layer or mesoderm
Mesoderm
In all bilaterian animals, the mesoderm is one of the three primary germ cell layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm and endoderm , with the mesoderm as the middle layer between them.The mesoderm forms mesenchyme , mesothelium, non-epithelial blood corpuscles and...

. The parenchyma of most organs is of ectodermal (brain, skin) or endodermal origin (lungs, gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas). The parenchyma of a few organs (spleen, kidneys, heart) is of mesodermal origin. The stroma of all organs is of mesodermal origin.

Examples include:
Organ Parenchyma
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| brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

 
neuron
Neuron
A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information by electrical and chemical signaling. Chemical signaling occurs via synapses, specialized connections with other cells. Neurons connect to each other to form networks. Neurons are the core components of the nervous...

s and glial cell
Glial cell
Glial cells, sometimes called neuroglia or simply glia , are non-neuronal cells that maintain homeostasis, form myelin, and provide support and protection for neurons in the brain, and for neurons in other parts of the nervous system such as in the autonomous nervous system...

s
>-
| heart
Heart
The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

 
myocyte
Myocyte
A myocyte is the type of cell found in muscles. They arise from myoblasts.Each myocyte contains myofibrils, which are long, long chains of sarcomeres, the contractile units of the cell....


>-
| kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 
nephron
Nephron
The renal tubule is the portion of the nephron containing the tubular fluid filtered through the glomerulus. After passing through the renal tubule, the filtrate continues to the collecting duct system, which is not part of the nephron....


>-
| liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 
hepatocyte
Hepatocyte
A hepatocyte is a cell of the main tissue of the liver. Hepatocytes make up 70-80% of the liver's cytoplasmic mass.These cells are involved in:* Protein synthesis* Protein storage* Transformation of carbohydrates...


>-
| lung
Lung
The lung is the essential respiration organ in many air-breathing animals, including most tetrapods, a few fish and a few snails. In mammals and the more complex life forms, the two lungs are located near the backbone on either side of the heart...

s
Lung parenchyma in its strictest sense refers solely to alveolar tissue with respiratory bronchiole
Respiratory bronchiole
The respiratory bronchioles are interrupted by alveoli which are thin walled evaginations. Alveolar ducts are distal continuations of the respiratory bronchioles.-External links:*...

s, alveolar duct
Alveolar duct
Alveolar ducts are the tiny end ducts of the branching airways that fill the lungs. Each lung holds approximately 1.5 to 2 million of them. The tubules divide into two or three alveolar sacs at the distal end. They are formed from the confluence openings of several alveoli...

s and terminal bronchiole
Terminal bronchiole
A terminal bronchiole is a bronchiole at the end of the conducting zone. At the transition into the respiratory zone, alveoli become present.The terminal bronchiole is the most distal segment of the conducting zone. Each of the terminal bronchioles divides to form respiratory bronchioles which...

s. However, the term is often used loosely to refer to any form of lung tissue, also including bronchioles, bronchi, blood vessel
Blood vessel
The blood vessels are the part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. There are three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and...

s and lung interstitium Medical Dictionary - 'Parenchyma Of Lung' In turn citing: Stedman's Medical Dictionary. 2006
>-
| pancreas
Pancreas
The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system of vertebrates. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, as well as a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist...

 
Islets of Langerhans
Islets of Langerhans
The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine cells. Discovered in 1869 by German pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans at the age of 22, the islets of Langerhans constitute approximately 1 to 2% of the mass of the pancreas...

 and Pancreatic acini
Exocrine pancreas
The exocrine pancreas has ducts that are arranged in clusters called acini . Pancreatic secretions are secreted into the lumen of the acinus, and then accumulate in intralobular ducts that drain to the main pancreatic duct, which drains directly into the duodenum.Control of the exocrine function of...


>-
| spleen
Spleen
The spleen is an organ found in virtually all vertebrate animals with important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system. In humans, it is located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. It removes old red blood cells and holds a reserve of blood in case of hemorrhagic shock...

 
white pulp and red pulp

In plants

Parenchyma cells are thin-walled cells
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

 of the ground tissue
Ground tissue
The types of ground tissue found in plants develop from ground tissue meristem and consists of three simple tissues:* Parenchyma...

 that make up the bulk of most nonwood
Herbaceous
A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level. They have no persistent woody stem above ground...

y structures, yet sometimes their cell walls can be lignified. Parenchyma cells in between the epidermis
Epidermis (botany)
The epidermis is a single-layered group of cells that covers plants' leaves, flowers, roots and stems. It forms a boundary between the plant and the external environment. The epidermis serves several functions, it protects against water loss, regulates gas exchange, secretes metabolic compounds,...

 and pericycle
Pericycle
The pericycle is a cylinder of parenchyma cells that lies just inside the endodermis and is the outer most part of the stele of plants.Although it is composed of non-vascular parenchyma cells, it is still considered part of the vascular cylinder because it arises from the procambium as do the...

 in a root
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

 or shoot
Shoot
Shoots are new plant growth, they can include stems, flowering stems with flower buds, and leaves. The new growth from seed germination that grows upward is a shoot where leaves will develop...

 constitute the cortex
Cortex (botany)
In botany, the cortex is the outer layer of the stem or root of a plant, bounded on the outside by the epidermis and on the inside by the endodermis. It is composed mostly of undifferentiated cells, usually large thin-walled parenchyma cells of the ground tissue system. The outer cortical cells...

, and are used for storage of food. They are mainly present in the soft areas of the stems, leaves, root, flowers, fruits etc. Parenchyma cells within the center of the root or shoot constitute the pith
Pith
Pith, or medulla, is a tissue in the stems of vascular plants. Pith is composed of soft, spongy parenchyma cells, which store and transport nutrients throughout the plant. In eudicots, pith is located in the center of the stem. In monocots, it extends also into flowering stems and roots...

. Parenchyma cells in the ovary constitutes the nucellus and are brick-like in formation. Parenchyma cells in the leaf constitute the mesophyll
Mesophyll
Mesophyll can refer to:* Mesophyll tissue, in plant anatomy, photosynthetic parenchyma cells that lie between the upper and lower epidermis layers of a leaf...

; they are responsible for photosynthesis and they allow for the interchange of gases.

Parenchyma is the most common and versatile ground tissue. It forms, for example, the cortex
Cortex (botany)
In botany, the cortex is the outer layer of the stem or root of a plant, bounded on the outside by the epidermis and on the inside by the endodermis. It is composed mostly of undifferentiated cells, usually large thin-walled parenchyma cells of the ground tissue system. The outer cortical cells...

 and pith
Pith
Pith, or medulla, is a tissue in the stems of vascular plants. Pith is composed of soft, spongy parenchyma cells, which store and transport nutrients throughout the plant. In eudicots, pith is located in the center of the stem. In monocots, it extends also into flowering stems and roots...

 of stems, the cortex of roots, the mesophyll
Mesophyll
Mesophyll can refer to:* Mesophyll tissue, in plant anatomy, photosynthetic parenchyma cells that lie between the upper and lower epidermis layers of a leaf...

 of leaves, the pulp of fruits, and the endosperm
Endosperm
Endosperm is the tissue produced inside the seeds of most flowering plants around the time of fertilization. It surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition in the form of starch, though it can also contain oils and protein. This makes endosperm an important source of nutrition in human diet...

 of seeds. Parenchyma cells are living cells and may remain meristematic at maturity, meaning that they are capable of cell division
Cell division
Cell division is the process by which a parent cell divides into two or more daughter cells . Cell division is usually a small segment of a larger cell cycle. This type of cell division in eukaryotes is known as mitosis, and leaves the daughter cell capable of dividing again. The corresponding sort...

. They have thin but flexible cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

 cell wall
Cell wall
The cell wall is the tough, usually flexible but sometimes fairly rigid layer that surrounds some types of cells. It is located outside the cell membrane and provides these cells with structural support and protection, and also acts as a filtering mechanism. A major function of the cell wall is to...

s, and are generally polygonal when close-packed, but approximately spherical when isolated from their neighbours. They have large central vacuoles, which allows the cells to store and regulate ions, waste products and water.

Parenchyma cells have a variety of functions:
  • In leaves
    Leaf
    A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

    , they form the mesophyll
    Mesophyll
    Mesophyll can refer to:* Mesophyll tissue, in plant anatomy, photosynthetic parenchyma cells that lie between the upper and lower epidermis layers of a leaf...

     and are responsible for photosynthesis
    Photosynthesis
    Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

     and the exchange of gases, parenchyma cells in the mesophyll
    Mesophyll
    Mesophyll can refer to:* Mesophyll tissue, in plant anatomy, photosynthetic parenchyma cells that lie between the upper and lower epidermis layers of a leaf...

     of leaves are a specialized parenchymatous tissue known as chlorenchyma (parenchyma with chloroplasts).
  • Storage of starch, protein, fats and oils and water in roots, tubers (e.g. potato
    Potato
    The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

    ), seed endosperm
    Endosperm
    Endosperm is the tissue produced inside the seeds of most flowering plants around the time of fertilization. It surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition in the form of starch, though it can also contain oils and protein. This makes endosperm an important source of nutrition in human diet...

     (e.g. cereal
    Cereal
    Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

    s) and cotyledon
    Cotyledon
    A cotyledon , is a significant part of the embryo within the seed of a plant. Upon germination, the cotyledon may become the embryonic first leaves of a seedling. The number of cotyledons present is one characteristic used by botanists to classify the flowering plants...

    s (e.g. pulses and groundnut
    Peanut
    The peanut, or groundnut , is a species in the legume or "bean" family , so it is not a nut. The peanut was probably first cultivated in the valleys of Peru. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing tall...

    )
  • Secretion
    Secretion
    Secretion is the process of elaborating, releasing, and oozing chemicals, or a secreted chemical substance from a cell or gland. In contrast to excretion, the substance may have a certain function, rather than being a waste product...

     (e.g. hydathode
    Hydathode
    A hydathode is a type of secretory tissue in leaves, usually of Angiosperms, that secretes water through pores in the epidermis or margin of leaves, typically at the tip of a marginal tooth or serration. They probably evolved from modified stomata...

    s, nectaries and cells lining the inside of resin ducts)
  • Wound repair and the potential for renewed meristematic activity
  • Other specialized functions such as aeration (aerenchyma
    Aerenchyma
    Aerenchyma is an air channel in the roots of some plants, which allows exchange of gases between the shoot and the root. The channel of large air-filled cavities provides a low-resistance internal pathway for the exchange of gases such as oxygen and ethylene between the plant above the water and...

    ) and support


The form of parenchyma cells varies with their function. The epidermal parenchyma cells of a leaf are barrel shaped in cross section, but have a variety of outline shapes ranging from simple polygons to strongly branched and interlocked shapes resembling the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle
Jigsaw puzzle
A jigsaw puzzle is a tiling puzzle that requires the assembly of numerous small, often oddly shaped, interlocking and tessellating pieces.Each piece usually has a small part of a picture on it; when complete, a jigsaw puzzle produces a complete picture...

, as in the leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana
Arabidopsis thaliana
Arabidopsis thaliana is a small flowering plant native to Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa. A spring annual with a relatively short life cycle, arabidopsis is popular as a model organism in plant biology and genetics...

. In the epidermis of higher plants, only the guard cells have chloroplast
Chloroplast
Chloroplasts are organelles found in plant cells and other eukaryotic organisms that conduct photosynthesis. Chloroplasts capture light energy to conserve free energy in the form of ATP and reduce NADP to NADPH through a complex set of processes called photosynthesis.Chloroplasts are green...

s. This tissue serves as a barrier wall and protects the internal tissues from injury. In the spongy mesophyll
Mesophyll
Mesophyll can refer to:* Mesophyll tissue, in plant anatomy, photosynthetic parenchyma cells that lie between the upper and lower epidermis layers of a leaf...

 of a leaf, parenchyma cells range from near-spherical and loosely arranged with large intercellular spaces to branched or stellate, mutually interconnected with their neighbours at the ends of the arms to form a three-dimensional network, as in the red kidney bean Phaseolus vulgaris and other mesophyte
Mesophyte
Mesophytes are terrestrial plants which are adapted to neither a particularly dry nor particularly wet environment. An example of a mesophytic habitat would be a rural temperate meadow, which might contain Goldenrod, Clover, Oxeye Daisy, and Rosa multiflora.Mesophytes make up the largest ecological...

s. These cells, with the epidermal
Epidermis (botany)
The epidermis is a single-layered group of cells that covers plants' leaves, flowers, roots and stems. It forms a boundary between the plant and the external environment. The epidermis serves several functions, it protects against water loss, regulates gas exchange, secretes metabolic compounds,...

 guard cell
Guard cell
Guard cells are specialized cells located in the Leaf epidermis of plants. Pairs of guard cells surround tiny stomatal airway pores . These tiny holes in the surface of leaves are necessary for gas exchange into and out of the plant; carbon dioxide enters the plant allowing the carbon fixation...

s of the stoma
Stoma
In botany, a stoma is a pore, found in the leaf and stem epidermis that is used forgas exchange. The pore is bordered by a pair of specialized parenchyma cells known as guard cells that are responsible for regulating the size of the opening...

, form a system of air spaces and chambers that regulate the exchange of gases. They usually contain plastids.
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