Tissue (biology): Wikis


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Tissue is a cellular organizational level intermediate between cells and a complete organism. Hence, a tissue is an ensemble of cells, not necessarily identical, but from the same origin, that together carry out a specific function. Organs are then formed by the functional grouping together of multiple tissues.

The study of tissue is known as histology or, in connection with disease, histopathology.

The classical tools for studying tissues are the paraffin block in which tissue is embedded and then sectioned, the histological stain, and the optical microscope. In the last couple of decades, developments in electron microscopy, immunofluorescence, and the use of frozen tissue sections have enhanced the detail that can be observed in tissues. With these tools, the classical appearances of tissues can be examined in health and disease, enabling considerable refinement of clinical diagnosis and prognosis.


Animal tissues

Animal tissues can be grouped into four basic types. Multiple tissue types comprise organs and body structures. While all animals can generally be considered to contain the four tissue types, the manifestation of these tissues can differ depending on the type of organism. For example, the origin of the cells comprising a particular tissue type may differ developmentally for different classifications of animals. The epithelium in all animals is derived from the ectoderm and endoderm with a small contribution from the mesoderm which forms the endothelium. By contrast, a true connective tissue is present only in a single layer of cells held together via occluding junctions called tight junctions, to create a selectively permeable barrier. This tissue covers all organismal surfaces that come in contact with the external environment such as the skin, the airways, and the digestive tract. It serves functions of protection, secretion, and absorption, and is separated from other tissues below by a basal lamina. Endothelium, which comprises the vasculature, is a specialized type of epithelium.

Connective tissue

Connective tissues are fibrous tissues. They are made up of cells separated by non-living material, which is called extracellular matrix. Connective tissue holds other tissues together such as in the formation of organs, and has the ability to stretch and contract passively. Bone, often referred to as osseous tissue, and blood are examples of specialized connective tissues.

Muscle tissue

Muscle cells forms the active contractile tissue of the body known as muscle tissue. Muscle tissue functions to produce force and cause motion, either locomotion or movement within internal organs. Muscle tissue is separated into three distinct categories: visceral or smooth muscle, which is found in the inner linings of organs; skeletal muscle, in which is found attached to bone providing for gross movement; and cardiac muscle which is found in the heart, allowing it to contract and pump blood throughout an organism.

Nervous tissue

Cells comprising the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system are classified as neural tissue. In the central nervous system, neural tissue forms the brain, cranial nerves and spinal cord and, in the peripheral nervous system forms the peripheral nerves, inclusive of the motor neurons.

Epithelial tissue

The epithelial tissues are formed by layers of cells that cover organ surfaces such as the surface of the skin, the airways, the reproductive tract, and the inner lining of the digestive tract. The cells comprising an epithelial layer are linked via semi-permeable, tight junctions; hence, this tissue provides a barrier between the external environment and the organism it covers. In addition to this protective function, epithelial tissue may also be specialized to function in secretion and absorption.

Plant tissues

Examples of tissue in other multicellular organisms are vascular tissue in plants, such as xylem and phloem. Plant tissues are categorized broadly into three tissue systems: the epidermis, the ground tissue, and the vascular tissue. Together they are often referred to as biomass.

Plant tissues can also be divided differently into two types:

  1. Meristematic tissues
  2. Permanent tissues

Meristematic tissues

The growth of plant occurs only in certain specific regions. At these regions, the meristematic tissues are present. New cells produced by meristem are initially those of meristem itself, but as they grow and mature, their characteristics slowly change and they become differentiated as components of other tissues. Depending on the region of occurrence of meristimatic tissues they are classified as:

a) Apical Meristem - It is present at the growing tips of stems and roots and increases the length of the stem and root. The girth of the stem or root increases due to lateral meristem (cambium).This meristem is responsible for the linear growth of an organ.
b) Lateral Meristem - This meristem consist of cells which mainly divide in one plane and cause the organ to increase in diameter and growth. Lateral Meristem usually occurs beneath the bark of the tree in the form of Cork Cambium and in vascular bundles of dicots in the form of vascular cambium. The activity of this cambium results in the formation of secondary growth.
c) Intercalary Meristem - This meristem is located in between permanent tissues. It is usually present at the base of node, inter node and on leaf base. They are responsible for growth in length of the plant.

The cells of meristematic tissues are similar in structure and have thin and elastic primary cell wall made up of cellulose. They are compactly arranged without inter-cellular spaces between them. Each cell contains a dense cytoplasm and a prominent nucleus. Dense protoplasm of meristematic cells contains very few vacuoles. Normally the meristematic cells are oval, polygonal or rectangular in shape.

Permanent tissues

The meristematic tissues that take up a specific role lose the ability to divide. This process of taking up a permanent shape, size and a function is called cellular differentiation. Cells of meristematic tissue differentiate to form different types of permanent tissue. There are 2 types of permanent tissues:

Simple permanent tissues

These tissues are called simple because they are composed of similar types of cells which have common origin and function. They are further classified into:

  1. Parenchyma
  2. Chlorenchyma
  3. Collenchyma
  4. Sclerenchyma

Parenchyma is Greek word where "parn" means besides and "enchien" means to pour. Parenchyma is the most specialized primitive tissue. It mainly consist of thin-walled cells which have inter-cellular spaces between them. The cell wall is made up of cellulose. Each parenchymatous cell is iso-diametric, spherical, or oval in shape. It is widely distributed in various plant organs like root, stem, leaf, flowers and fruits. They mainly occur in the cortex epidermis, and pith, as well as in the mesophyll of leaves.

The main function of parenchymatous tissue is assimilation and storage of reserve food materials like starch, fats and proteins. They also store waste products such as gums, resins, and inorganic waste materials.


The cells of this tissue are characterized by having chloroplasts (containing chlorophyll). It is found in the palisade and spongy tissues in the green leaves and the stem cortex of the herbs where photosynthesis occurs.


Collenchyma is Greek word where "Collen" means gum and "enchyma" means infusion. It is a living tissue of primary body like Parenchyma. Cells are thin-walled but possess thickening of cellulose and pectin substances at the corners where number of cells join together. This tissue gives a tensile strength to the plant and the cells are compactly arranged and do not have inter-cellular spaces. It occurs chiefly in hypodermis of stems and leaves. It is absent in monocots and in roots.

Collenchymatous tissue acts as a supporting tissue in stems of young plants. It provides mechanical support, elasticity, and tensile strength to the plant body. It helps in manufacturing sugar and storing it as starch. It is present in margin of leaves and resist tearing effect of the wind.


Sclerenchyma is Greek word where "Sclrenes" means hard and "enchyma" means infusion. This tissue consists of thick-walled, dead cells. These cells have hard and extremely thick secondary walls due to uniform distribution of lignin. Lignin deposition is so thick that the cell walls become strong, rigid and impermeable to water. Sclerenchymatous cells are closely packed without inter-cellular spaces between them. Thus, they appear as hexagonal net in transverse section. The cells are cemented with the help of lamella. The middle lamella is a wall that lies between adjacent cells. Sclerenchymatous cells mainly occur in hypodermis, pericycle, secondary xylem and phloem. They also occur in endocorp of almond and coconut. It is made of pectin, lignin, protein. The cells of sclerenchyamtous cells can be classified as :

  1. Fibres- Fibres are long, elongated sclerenchyamtous cells with pointed ends.
  2. Sclerides- Sclerenchymatous cells which are short and possess extremely thick, lamellated, lignified walls with long singular piths. They are called sclerides.

The main function of Sclerenchymatous tissues is to give support to the plant.

Complex permanent tissue

A complex permanent tissue may be classified as a group of more than one type of tissue having a common origin and working together as a unit to perform a function. These tissues are concerned with transportation of water, mineral, nutrients and organic substances. The important complex tissues in vascular plants are xylem, phloem.


Xylem is a chief, conducting tissue of vascular plants. It is responsible for conduction of water and inorganic solutes.


Xylem is an important plant tissue as it is part of the ‘plumbing’ of a plant. Think of bundles of pipes running along the main axis of stems and roots. It carries water and dissolved substances throughout and consists of a combination of parenchyma cells, fibers, vessels, tracheids and ray cells. Long tubes made up of individual cells are the vessels, while vessel members are open at each end. Internally, there may be bars of wall material extending across the open space. These cells are joined end to end to form long tubes. Vessel members and tracheids are dead at maturity. Tracheids have thick secondary cell walls and are tapered at the ends. They do not have end openings such as the vessels. The tracheids ends overlap with each other, with pairs of pits present. The pit pairs allow water to pass from cell to cell. While most conduction in the xylem is up and down, there is some side-to-side or lateral conduction via rays. Rays are horizontal rows of long-living parenchyma cells that arise out of the vascular cambium. In trees, and other woody plants, ray will radiate out from the center of stems and roots and in cross-section will look like the spokes of a wheel.


Phloem is an equally important plant tissue as it also is part of the ‘plumbing’ of a plant. Primarily, phloem carries dissolved food substances throughout the plant. This conduction system is composed of sieve-tube member and companion cells, that are without secondary walls. The parent cells of the vascular cambium produce both xylem and phloem. This usually also includes fibers, parenchyma and ray cells. Sieve tubes are formed from sieve-tube members laid end to end. The end walls, unlike vessel members in xylem, do not have openings. The end walls, however, are full of small pores where cytoplasm extends from cell to cell. These porous connections are called sieve plates. In spite of the fact that their cytoplasm is actively involved in the conduction of food materials, sieve-tube members do not have nuclei at maturity. It is the companion cells that are nestled between sieve-tube members that function in some manner bringing about the conduction of food. Sieve-tube members that are alive contain a polymer called callose. Callose stays in solution as long at the cell contents are under pressure. As a repair mechanism, if an insect injures a cell and the pressure drops, the callose will precipitate. However, the callose and a phloem protein will be moved through the nearest sieve plate where they will for a plug. This prevents further leakage of sieve tube contents and the injury is not necessarily fatal to overall plant turgor pressure.

See also


  • Raven, Peter H., Evert, Ray F., & Eichhorn, Susan E. (1986). Biology of Plants (4th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. ISBN 0-87901-315-X.


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