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What Is The Difference Between The Apoplast And The Symplast?

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Kath Senior answered
These two complicated and technical words refer to the parts of a plant through which water passes as it travels up the stem from the roots to the leaves. The symplast involves the living contents of root cells, including the membranes, cytoplasm and vacuoles.

Small strands of cytoplasm called plasmodesmata pass through the cell walls of different plant cells, connecting the symplasts of cells that are next door to each other. The symplast is therefore continuous from the roots to the leaves.

The apoplast is also a continuous pathway along the same route but it is made up only of non living structures. This includes the spaces between cells and the cell walls – the chemical and structural parts of the cells.

The two systems are completely separate and operate independently, but both have the same function – to get water up the plant stem as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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