The portal has been deactivated. Please contact your portal admin.

Question Video: Describing the Function of Structural Support Materials Biology

What is the primary function of structural support materials in plants?

02:14

Video Transcript

What is the primary function of structural support materials in plants? (A) To increase the rate at which materials pass through the plant. (B) To allow flexibility and movement for the plant. (C) To maintain the shape of the plant and the plant cells. Or (D) to control which substances enter and leave plant cells.

Unlike many animals like you and I, plants do not have a skeleton to support them and so require other support mechanisms in order to function effectively. This support comes in two forms: structural support and physiological support.

Physiological support is given to plant cells and, as a result, the plant as a whole by water exerting turgor pressure on cell membranes. This is a temporary measure, as dehydrated plants lose the support of water in their tissues and become wilted. Structural support describes the permanent deposition of strong polymers into cell walls, which remains even after the plant has died. For example, polymers like lignin can be deposited into the cell walls of xylem vessels, keeping them rigid and upright to increase the efficiency of water transport.

Some structural support polymers like lignin have other functions, like making the cell impermeable to water. But their main role is to maintain cell shape to keep the plant strong. So what is the primary function of structural support in plants?

The deposition of tough substances into certain cell walls actually limits their flexibility by making these tissues rigid and strong, so we can eliminate option (B).

The deposition of polymers like lignin into plant cell walls does function to make a cell impermeable to water, thereby increasing the efficiency of water transport. However, this is one specific example and does not describe the primary function of structural support in general. So options (A) and (D) are incorrect.

Instead, the primary function of these structural support mechanisms in plants is to maintain the shape of the plant cells and, as a result, the plant as a whole. So the primary function of structural support materials in plants, and the correct answer to this question, is (C): to maintain the shape of the plant and the plant cells.

Nagwa uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.