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performing a scientific investigation

Vacuoles are specialized organelles that are responsible for storing starch, water, and pigments. They also act as a repository for metabolic wastes. Some plant cells contain a large, central vacuole, which occupies almost the entire cell. Central vacuoles are re- sponsible for providing support, which is based on the amount of water or pressure against the cell wall. If too much water is lost in the central vacuole, a plant will lose its support and appear to droop.

Centrioles are found in all animal cells and some plant cells. These structures, which occur in pairs, are responsible for the cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton is composed of microtubules, microfilaments, and intermediate filaments. It is with these long struc- tures that the cytoskeleton provides support, maintains the cell shape, and anchors the organelles. The cytoskeleton is also used for moving structures or products.

Within eukaryotes is an endomembrane system. In this system, the endoplasmic retic- ulum, which consists of a membrane that forms folds and pockets, connects the nu- clear envelope, the Golgi apparatus (or Golgi complex), and cell membranes. This system is often called the factory of the cell because each of the individual organelles contributes to the production and delivery of proteins, lipids, and other molecules.

The nucleus contains the blueprints for proteins. These plans are then passed to the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER). This structure is composed of several folds of a membrane and is covered with ribosomes (these bumps are why it is called rough en- doplasmic reticulum). Once the ribosomes receive the plans, the protein is built. Some proteins will move to the Golgi complex. Other proteins will move to the smooth en- doplasmic reticulum (it is called smooth because it lacks ribosomes). These proteins instruct the organelle to build other molecules, such as lipids and carbohydrates. Like some proteins from the RER, some of these molecules will move to the Golgi com- plex.

The Golgi apparatus is the central post office area of the cell. It receives the products of the rough endoplasmic reticulum and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, packages them, and ships them to their intended destination.

Another structure found only in photosynthetic cells is the chloroplast. This special- ized structure belongs to a class of membrane-lined sacs called plastids (like the vac-