Scientists Say: Vacuole

This is where cells store their stuff


This is a diagram of a cell with all of its parts, including the vacuole (green).

MesserWoland and Szczepan1990/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Vacuole (noun, “VAC-you-ole”)

This is a specialized structure inside a cell. It consists of a bubble of fluid surrounded by a membrane. A vacuole, like a closet in a house, can store whatever a cell needs at the time. A cell might stash food in a vacuole before digesting it. Or a cell might use a vacuole to collect or isolate trash or toxins until they can be disposed of safely. The fluid inside a vacuole may contain proteins called enzymes that can help break down the toxins or foods stored inside. Vacuoles can also store water, which can help cells in organisms like plants to keep up their shape.

In a sentence

If a yeast cell has no vacuoles, its trash builds up inside until the cell destroys itself.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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