The cell is the basic unit of life—the building block for all plants and animals on the planet. Plant cells are eukaryotic, which means that they contain a distinct nucleus. Plant cells have three unique structures which set them apart from other eukaryotes, such as animal cells: the cell wall, plastids, and vacuoles. Plant cells are microscopic in size (on the order of 0.01 to 1.0 mm.)
The photosynthetic process that occurs within chloroplasts is what is responsible for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and turning it into oxygen. Every time you take a breath, you can thank all the microscopic processes that go on within a plant cell for producing the oxygen you breathe.
Some of the most important cell parts have been labeled in Figure 1. Try comparing this diagram to an actual picture of one of the cells Esau researched in Figure 2.
Fig. 2 Cotton cell. Photo by Jennifer Thorsch.