So cell wall is an organelle? Whereas, it is not a membrane-closed organelle?

Cytoplasm is an organelle? Whereas, it is not a membrane-closed organelle?

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    $\begingroup$ For me it looks much like a matter of just terminology and definition. Cytoplasm is a part of cell so I could not see any cause to deny cytoplasm as an organelle. Is that? $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 14 '16 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ From viewpoint of definition I couldnot tell the cell wall as 'cell organelle' because it is out of the cell. In another term it is 'extracellular matrix' $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 14 '16 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ Traditionally we call chloroplasts and mitochondria as organelles. But now it is well established that they are entire cells (including cytoplasm) of other species! however still we call them organelle. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 14 '16 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AlwaysConfused This is a semantic question without any real value in biology. I'm going to vote to close since this ultimately comes down to a matter of opinion without more information or a detailed scientific question. i.e cell biologists may care about the organization of all sub-cellular components, so the cytoplasm is important, whereas biophysicists may count it as exceptional since luminal spaces are more akin to extra-cellular spaces than the cytoplasm, so it's a very different cellular structure to them. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 2 '17 at 3:34

The cell wall isn't an organelle (according to VCE biology textbook) and the cytoplasm is not. My guess is that the wall regulates movement (ie, active function), whereas cytoplasm is just a fluid in which the other cells are surrounded (ie, passive).


Note that the terms active and passive are not being used in any scientific term, but are rather referring to if the mentioned item is actively carrying out (a) process(es)

  • $\begingroup$ Please add some reference(s)! $\endgroup$ – L.B. May 31 '16 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ Cytoplasm is not reduced to cytosol! $\endgroup$ – Joce Jun 1 '16 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ I was not saying it was. It is water, salts and proteins. $\endgroup$ – XaNaX Jun 1 '16 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ How cell-wall could be a cell-organelle? it is extracellular matrix (out of cell) $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 14 '16 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ whereas cytoplasm is just a fluid in which the other cells are surrounded (ie, passive). Just a passive fluid, is it? It's the bedrock of all life as we know it! "Passive" indeed... :P $\endgroup$ – James Feb 2 '17 at 3:27

Cytoplasm is not an organelle. This is simply a generic term that describes everything within the plasma membrane and outside the nucleus.

We typically think of organelles as being within cells. The cell wall surrounds the cell, lying just outside the plasma membrane, usually considered the boundry of a cell. On the other hand it provides vital function for the cells having them and could be considered an organelle in this context. While it offers some regulation of passage of substance between cells, its principal function is support. I would have accepted either yes or no from my high school students.

(I'm about to depart to a 6th grade class to lead them in an activity demonstrating the support function of cell walls! Balloons. i.e. cells, inside heavy paper bags, i.e. cell walls.)


Wikipedia gives quite clear and sourced answers in this case:

an organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function. Individual organelles are usually separately enclosed within their own lipid bilayers.

Under the more restricted definition of membrane-bound structures, some parts of the cell do not qualify as organelles. Nevertheless, the use of organelle to refer to non-membrane bound structures such as ribosomes is common.[11] This has led some texts to delineate between membrane-bound and non-membrane bound organelles.[12] The non-membrane bound organelles, also called large biomolecular complexes, are large assemblies of macromolecules that carry out particular and specialized functions, but they lack membrane boundaries.

To answer our question, the cell wall can be considered an organelle as it is a subunit with a defined (set of related) function(s).

The cytoplasm in itself is difficult to consider as an organelle, but the cytoskeleton can be considered one.


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