Can Plant Cell Have Cytokinesis: 7 Detailed Insights


Cytokinesis is the last step of cell division and yes it occurs in plant cells as well.

Cytokinesis directly refers to the division of the cytoplasm and its materials into two daughter cells, occurring at the end of both mitosis and meiosis.

Like all cells plant cells must undergo cytokinesis for creating the next generation.

What is cytokinesis?

It is the last step of cell division that occurs after karyokinesis which is the division of the nucleus.

Cytokinesis is the “kinesis” or division of the cytoplasmic material of the eukaryotic cell to produce two daughter cells.

General illustration of cytokinesis Image: Wikipedia

Karyokinesis and cytokinesis are the final steps of cell division in eukaryotic cells. However, the process and events differ at some points when it comes to cytokinesis in plant and animal cells. This is probably because, unlike animal cells, plant cells also have a cell wall that needs to be divided into the sister cells.

When does cytokinesis take place in a plant cell?

Cytokinesis in plant cells starts after karyokinesis i.e. when the two daughter nuclei are separated.

Cytokinesis in all eukaryotic cells including plant cells occurs upon the completion of karyokinesis even if the modes are different.

The last phase of the cell cycle is cytokinesis after which the cell starts the cycle again. This means both mitosis and meiosis include cytokinesis and in this case, meiosis includes it twice.

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Where does cytokinesis take place in a plant cell?

Unlike animal cells, cytokinesis in plant cells is longer and a more complex process.

In plant cells, cytokinesis does not physically separate or divide the two cells, rather a cell wall forms in between them.

can-plant-cell-have-cytokinesis
Comparison of cytokinesis in plant and animal cell Image: Wikipedia

This starts in the form of the cell plate. It starts from the middle and spreads towards the edges. That is the cell plate formation occurs centrifugally followed by the formation of the cell wall equipped with the plasmodesmata. The cell membrane stretches to complete itself for each daughter cell.

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At what point does cytokinesis start in plant cells?

Cytokinesis in plant cells starts in the prophase of cell division(mainly mitosis).

Though the cell cycle consists of two different steps i.e. the mitotic or meiotic phase and cytokinesis, in reality, one is not preceded by the other. Rather the two are overlapping thus saving the cell energy and time.

As stated above in plant cells the process of cytokinesis starts in the very first stage of prophase in mitosis and prophase 2 in meiosis. Most cells can take around 9-10 hours to complete a complete cycle most of which it spends in Interphase. Hence karyokinesis and cytokinesis mostly overlap to save the cell precious energy, time and resources.

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How does cytokinesis occur in plant cells?

Cytokinesis in plant cells is a long process occurring in a total of five steps.

Because cytokinesis in plant cells includes the formation of the cell wall and segregation of the plasma membrane, the process is rather long.

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Step 1:

The first step is the formation of a microtubule array to support the cell plate formation. This microtubule array is called a phragmoplast. The phragmoplast is actually made of the spindle remains formed during karyokinesis.

Image showing the formation of phragmoplast and cell plate in plant cell
Image: Wikipedia

Step 2:

The second step is the transport of vesicles composed of proteins, polysaccharides, and lipids into the phragmoplast’s mid zone by the microtubules. These vesicles are essential for the development of the cell plate. The Golgi body is the source of these vesicles.

Step 3:

The cell plate is formed when widened microtubules join laterally with one another to produce a planar sheet in the next step. Other cell wall elements, as well as cellulose deposits on the cell plate, encourage the cell to mature further.

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Step 4:

The cell plate’s edges are fused to the existing mother cell membrane, thus it separates two daughter cells physically. The majority of times, this union is asymmetric. However, endoplasmic reticulum strands are discovered going through the newly created cell plate, which acts as precursors to plasmodesmata, a type of cell junction present in plant cells.

Step 5:

The last step is when different cell wall components delivered by the secretory vesicles, such as hemicellulose, pectins, and arabinogalactan proteins, are deposited on the newly created cell plate.  Callose (a prior synthase of cellulose) is finally replaced by cellulose as the cell plate merges with the old cell membrane. The cell wall generates the middle lamella. Pectin forms a glue-like coating on the surface. The central lamella binds the two adjacent cells together.

Image showing the positioning of the middle lamella
Image: Wikipedia

What is formed in plant cells during cytokinesis?

During cytokinesis, several structures are formed in the plant cell including- the cell plate, the cell wall and the middle lamella.

Unlike animal cells, plant cells remain attached and connected just separated by a perforated cell wall.

During cytokinesis, this cell wall is produced by the formation of the cell plate. Then the middle lamella is produced that holds the two cells together, or rather cements them together. However, this middle lamella has some windows called as plasmodesmata that allow the two cells to communicate and also share information nutrients and more.

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At what point does cytokinesis end in plant cells?

Cytokinesis ends at the telophase of mitosis in plant cells.

Since in the cell cycle the process of karyokinesis and cytokinesis occur rather simultaneously in plant cells, the process ends at telophase, making division time shorter.

Cytokinesis in plant cells ends with the formation of the two daughter cells, separated by the cell wall and middle lamella. This means that both cells have an equal amount of genetic and cytoplasmic material and can still communicate, but they are individual cells separated by cellulose derived cell walls.

Is cytokinesis the same for animals and plants?

No, the process of cytokinesis is not the same in plant cells. So we will hereby compare them in  a table:

  Point of difference  Cytokinesis in plant cell  Cytokinesis animal cell
  Mode of cytokinesisCytokinesis is induced by the formation of the cell plate in the mother cellCytokinesis in animal cells is induced by the cleavage of the cell membrane from the edges of the mother cell
Direction of cytokinesisCentrifugal, i.e. the cell plate formation starts from the centred and spreads towards the edges.The furrowing of the cell membrane starts from the edges and moves inwards, i.e. centripetal.
Fate of the cell membraneThe cell membrane remains intactThe cell membrane gets pinched off into the two daughter cells
Nature of the cytokinesis initiators.The cell plate is made up of cell wall fragments carried by the vesicles of the Golgi bodies.The furrow is pulled towards the centre of the cell by a contractile ring made of actin and myosin filaments.
Table comparing cytokinesis occurring in plant and animal cells

Conclusion:

Like all eukaryotic cells plant cells also need to perform cytokinesis to end the cell cycle. So the answer to the question “Can plant cell have cytokinesis?”, is obviously yes. It is not an option but a necessity for an actively dividing plant cell.

Trisha Dey

I am Trisha Dey, a postgraduate in Bioinformatics. I pursued my graduate degree in Biochemistry. I love reading .I also have a passion for learning new languages. Let’s connect through linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trisha-dey-183482199

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