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What is the function of the vacuole?

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Quick Answer

The function of the vacuole depends on the type of cell in which it is found. One of the main functions of the vacuole is to isolate materials that might be harmful to the cell.

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What is the function of the vacuole?
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Full Answer

Vacuoles are membrane-bound organelles that are found in cells of plants, animals and fungi. Plant cells tend to have a large central vacuole, while the vacuoles in animal cells tend to be smaller. The main function of vacuoles is to contain the waste products of the cells and isolate them from the rest of the organelles and the cytoplasm. Vacuoles maintain an acidic pH internally. This allows them to denature misfolded proteins transferred to the vacuole from the cytoplasm. The vacuoles can also help remove unwanted or toxic materials from the cells by exporting them to the cell membrane, where they are released to the outside surroundings of the cell. This process is known as exocytosis. New vacuoles can be formed in cells such as amoeba in order to engulf material that is outside the cell and bring it inside. This process is known as endocytosis. In plants, the vacuole stores water and maintains the internal hydrostatic pressure of the cell. By providing the pressure within plant cells, vacuoles allow plants to support their leaves and flowers.

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