Is a plant cell alive or dead

The Small Inquiry: When is a Plant Dead?

Plants need water. If it doesn't rain for a long time or if people forget to water their potted plants, the plant slowly degrades: it collapses because the internal fluid pressure (turgor) decreases and it wilts. As soon as a cell loses more than 70 percent of its water, it can hardly be saved. There is mechanical damage to the cell walls, the cell and the genetic material slowly dissolve. If many cells die together, a plant organ also dies - e.g. the leaf.

Life means metabolism

If leaves die, this does not necessarily mean that the entire plant is dead. A plant consists of innumerable cells, approx. 70 different types of cells and several organs. As long as important organs are functional and can carry out crucial metabolic functions, the plant lives on. Photosynthesis is one of the most important metabolic functions.

Meristemes - really versatile

Whether a plant that has once stunted regains its senses also depends on the presence of a very special cell type, the so-called meristematic cells. If meristems are present and intact, the plant can regenerate any type of tissue. There are a particularly large number of meristematic cells in the root tips and in the still young bud.

Make two out of one

Cut flowers and sawed trees live on for a long time after the turning point. Plants capable of regeneration such as boxwood can even sprout again on the sprout with the right care and form new roots. This does not work with conifers. With some plants, a cut creates, so to speak, one more life. The blooming tulip, for example, lives on for some time, and a new plant can later grow from the bulb.

Life after plant death?

Living plants carry out a metabolism, dead plants are no longer able to do this - this is the rule. Of course there are exceptions: some desert plants can remain in a dormant state for a long time without photosynthesis. During the dry season, the so-called resurrection plant looks completely dried out and dead. As soon as it rains, however, the plant awakens to new life. Plant seeds do not photosynthesize either.

Diagnosis of death

It is not easy to determine the death of plants. You cannot rely on external characteristics. Just a look through the microscope reveals whether individual plant cells are still alive or not. If the cell structures are still intact, if an added dye is well absorbed and does not run, then the cells and probably also the examined plant organ are still full of life. But what about the other organs? The only practicable method is therefore this: water, fertilize and wait until next spring.