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Cannabis plants are made up of several types of cells, all of which work together to perform various functions. Whether we’re talking about the roots, the leaves, or the vascular system, each cell type is equally important to plant health and growth. Without healthy cells in each category, a plant simply cannot survive.
Everything a cannabis grower does affects their plants at the cellular level. External factors, such as changes in temperature or lighting, also affect plants at this microscopic level. It’s important for cannabis cultivators to understand these cellular effects, so they can modify growing conditions and elicit the proper response. In this guide, we’ll examine cannabis plant cell types, their functions, and how cells are used in plant propagation.
Cellular Structure: It All Begins Here
Unlike animal cells, plant cells have walls. A marijuana plant’s cell walls are composed of cellulose, which gives the cell support and firmness. The entire cell is enclosed in a thin membrane that keeps internal parts in and external factors out. Some substances, such as potassium and calcium, can pass through cell membranes.
Plant cells emit substances for transport to other cells. The cell membrane contains substances that can send signals to and receive them from the environment. With these actions, cells can determine the concentration of certain external substances.
Cannabis plant cells are full of cytoplasm, a thin mixture of dissolved solids such as potassium, calcium, sugars, and proteins. The cytoplasm is also home to the cell’s organelles, which serve a very specific function. The cell’s nucleus is also found here. It contains the plant’s DNA, which handles cell reproduction and the synthesis of certain substances.
Chloroplasts & Mitochondria
Like all other plants, cannabis plants grown from American seeds get energy from external light. This energy passes through chloroplasts, which are organelles that resemble tiny piles of coins. Within the chloroplasts, the all-important process of photosynthesis occurs. Whether received via light from the sun in your Oregon state greenhouse or via full-spectrum lights in your Idaho or Virginia grow room, the end process of photosynthesis remains the same.
The human body is incapable of photosynthesis because it contains no chloroplasts. However, the mitochondria can metabolize ingested sugars by using oxygen to turn them into energy, CO2, and water. Marijuana plants have mitochondria as well; they’re used in much the same way. In the chloroplasts, the sun’s energy is combined with CO2 and converted into glucose.
Synthesis of Substances Within Cannabis Plant Cells
Cells produce the plant’s basic building blocks. Everything starts here, from the absorption of soil-borne nutrients to the byproducts of photosynthesis: new cells, lipids, proteins, and cannabinoids such as THC. Most of these important substances are made within the endoplasmic reticulum or ER. The cell is best thought of like a factory, where the ER serves as the assembly line.
The endoplasmic reticulum is attached to the cell’s nucleus and runs throughout the cytoplasm. Under a microscope, it looks quite rugged because of its high concentration of ribosomes. The ribosomes are the assembly line workers that synthesize proteins and perform other crucial functions. Further into the ER, things smooth out and proteins are temporarily held before being sent to the Golgi body.
A cannabis plant cell’s Golgi body can best be compared to a factory’s shipping and packing department. Here, materials arrive, are processed and are sent on to other parts of the plant. For instance, proteins are routed to the cell membrane where they help to maintain proper function. The cell’s Golgi body also produces substances such as hormones, which affect other parts of the plant. These hormones are secreted by the cells and carried away by resin or sap. Other cells recognize these hormones and absorb them, triggering reactions that are crucial to a plant’s growth and survival.
The Nucleus and Vacuoles
Cell processes are complex enough to require a significant degree of coordination. These processes are handled by the cannabis plant’s DNA, which stores the instructions needed to make the substances cells need. Cell processes are also affected by substances that are stored internally.
The plant’s DNA is held within the cell’s nucleus. Though all cells have the same DNA, different kinds of cells use certain DNA parts. For instance, components necessary for photosynthesis aren’t used in the roots, which don’t receive light. Parts of the plant’s DNA are switched off in some types of cells and activated in others.
When a cannabis plant first emerges from the seed, stem cells can potentially develop into any other type of cell. A new cell’s function and development are largely determined by that of surrounding cells. Plant hormones and synthesized sugars play a crucial role in cell growth and hormonal function.
How Cells Work Together
Though cells are a cannabis plant’s smallest independent units, the plants you grow are much more than a collection of cells. A plant’s cells must all work together to ensure proper function and development. They’re grouped into organs and tissues, which cooperate closely via hormonal processes.
In certain cases, such as when cuttings are taken from a plant, the cells’ specializations must be changed. Roots are a good example, as they absorb the nutrients and water the plant needs to survive. When cuttings are taken, a plant will soon form new, basic cells that eventually develop into root cells. On the cutting’s leaves, the stomata will close so the plant no longer loses water. The cannabis plant will then live on its energy reserves until the new roots grow in. This process increases the plant’s chances of survival and gives growers the ability to take some great cuttings.
Cells and Their Role in Plant Development
As in other parts of the plant kingdom, cannabis plants grow through cell division and elongation. When plant cells divide and copy themselves, they get longer and wider. Cell division occurs at a plant’s crown, at the end of its roots, and the edges of its leaf nodes. When there’s visible growth, cell division is progressing quickly.
When new cells are created, they elongate as they absorb water via the xylem. If a marijuana plant is healthy and in a good, stable growing environment, it may grow by three inches or more in a single day. These new cells can serve several purposes, and their developmental paths are determined by the plant’s needs.
Cannabis plant cells fall into three tissue categories: dermal, ground, and vascular. Ground cells, which are also known as parenchyma, are by far the most common. For example, a plant’s leaves are primarily composed of parenchymal cells, except for the stomata and veins.
The next group is the vascular tissue category. Vascular tissues carry water and nutrients throughout a plant. The xylem transports water and mineral from the roots upward, and the phloem carries photosynthetic byproducts from the plant’s leaves to other parts.
Finally, there’s dermal tissue to consider. Dermal tissues make up the plant cells’ outer layer, protecting it from temperature extremes, parasites, and pest infestation. The cell walls, stomata, and green external layers are all made of dermal tissues that help plants absorb the water and CO2 needed for survival.
There are a few ways to propagate cannabis plants at the cellular level, ranging from taking cuttings to cell regeneration. Each of these methods serves a purpose and can be very effective when properly used. We’ll discuss these methods in the following sections.
- In stem propagation, conventional cloning methods are used. Large groups of cells are taken at once, and this is the easiest and most reliable way to create precise replicas of successful plants.
- Micropropagation is another cutting process, albeit a more accurate method. Here, it’s possible to create thousands of clones from one plant, simply by taking a few cells from the stem.
- Meristematic culturing is one of the cannabis industry’s newest trends. It takes the concept of propagation to another level by dissecting shoot tips and accessing the stem cell-rich structures within. This technique is an extremely effective way to eliminate viruses.
- Protoplast culture is a non-mechanical method of propagation. It’s the most challenging by far, and because of its difficulty, it is primarily used in biotech applications. Through cell regeneration and chemistry, tissues are propagated.
In tissue culture, plants are grown from the cellular level in a sterile, controlled environment. Culturing reduces the risks posed by pathogens and pests while providing plants the clean slate needed for healthy, safe growth and genetic expression.
Is it Possible to Synthesize Cannabis Cells?
With proprietary technology, it is possible to create cannabis cells without the need for plant growth. Though growing plants is the best way to enjoy cannabis, this technique allows commercial entities to produce the active ingredients in cannabis without the cost and difficulty of cultivation. As cannabis cells are synthesized, products can be made cleaner and more consistent in quality.
Like all other plants, cannabis is made up of billions of living cells. The cells within a marijuana plant serve numerous functions, all of which combine to facilitate safe and healthy growth. By learning how cannabis grows from 420 seeds at the most basic level, any grower can make their own cultivation efforts more successful. Whether you grow indoors in Wyoming or outdoors in Nevada, we have the perfect strain for you to grow yourself at home. Contact our team for any additional questions you may have on how to order your indoor or outdoor cannabis seeds online.