The key difference between parenchyma and mesenchymal cells is that the parenchyma cells cannot differentiate whereas the mesenchymal cells are capable of differentiating.
There are different types of cells in multicellular organisms that are necessary for various biological functions. Therefore, they are important in different stages of life or throughout the lifespan of an organism. Likewise, Parenchyma cells and mesenchymal cells are two such types of cells in multicellular organisms. Parenchyma cells are found mainly in the plants. These cells cannot differentiate, and the main function is to act as a storage site for plants. On the other hand, mesenchymal cells are the multipotent cells that have the ability to differentiate. They differentiate into many types of cells in a multicellular organism.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Parenchyma Cells
3. What are Mesenchymal Cells
4. Similarities Between Parenchyma and Mesenchymal Cells
5. Side by Side Comparison – Parenchyma vs Mesenchymal Cells in Tabular Form
What are Parenchyma Cells?
Parenchyma cells belong to one of the three main types of cells in a plant. The other two types are collenchyma cells and sclerenchyma cells. Together, these three cells form the ground tissues in a plant. The Parenchyma cells are the simplest type of cells present in a plant body. They have a primary cell wall but lack the secondary cell wall. The primary cell wall has very thin edges. The permeability of the primary cell wall is very high. Hence, it allows many materials to pass in and out of the cells. The shape of the parenchyma cells vary. Furthermore, they possess a large centre vacuole.
The parenchyma cells have the ability to photosynthesize in the presence of carbon dioxide, sunlight, water and chlorophyll. They also perform cellular respiration in plants. Therefore, the main function of parenchyma cells is to store the synthesized food and to generate energy via cellular respiration. In addition, the parenchyma cells are also used in the healing and repair of wounds in plants. Also, the parenchyma cells are distributed in the meristematic tissue, leaf palisade, mesophyll cells, and stem and root.
What are Mesenchymal Cells?
Mesenchymal cells are the cells that make up the mesenchyme or the mesenchymal tissue. These cells originate from the mesoderm that is located between the ectoderm and the endoderm. Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent cells which are able to differentiate into many types of cells such as muscle cells, lymph cells, bone cells, and adipose cells.
These cells appear first during the gastrulation process. Consequently, the embryonic epithelial cells convert into mesenchymal cells. This is the main process that takes place during the regeneration process of the embryo. Once the mesenchymal cells are formed, they migrate to the extracellular matrix and differentiate. The reverse transition from mesenchymal cells to epithelial cells is unfavourable.
What are the Similarities Between Parenchyma and Mesenchymal Cells?
- Parenchyma and mesenchymal cells are living cells.
- They are found in multicellular organisms.
- Furthermore, they are present in eukaryotic organisms.
- Also, both have the ability to divide and proliferate.
- Moreover, both are important in building tissues.
What is the Difference Between Parenchyma and Mesenchymal Cells?
Parenchyma cells are the most common ground tissues in plants. They have a thin cell wall compared to other cell types. These cells are mainly located in the soft parts of plants such as leaves, flowers, fruits, etc. On the other hand, mesenchymal cells are a type of connective tissue cells found during the embryonic development. They are multipotent cells that are able to differentiate into many cell types. Therefore, the key difference between parenchyma and mesenchymal cells is the ability to differentiate; while the mesenchymal cells have the ability to differentiate, the parenchyma cells cannot differentiate.
Also, we can identify a difference between parenchyma and mesenchymal cells in terms of the functions too. That is; the parenchyma cells function as a storage site and involve in photosynthesis, healing and repair of cells, and in cellular respiration. Whereas, the mesenchymal cells differentiate into various types of cells during embryonic development. The below infographic on difference between parenchyma and mesenchymal cells shows more details.
Summary – Parenchyma vs Mesenchymal Cells
There are different cell types in multicellular organisms. Parenchyma cells are present in plants, and they form the ground tissue in plants. Consequently, they act as a storage site for synthesized food, perform cellular respiration and involve in healing and repairing of wounded cells. Moreover, parenchyma cells do not have the ability to differentiate. In contrast, mesenchymal cells are most abundant during embryonic development. Thus, they have the ability to differentiate into different types of cells. This is the difference between parenchyma and mesenchymal cells.
1.Editors. “Parenchyma Cells (Plant): Definition, Function, Structure.” Biology Dictionary, Biology Dictionary, 20 June 2018. Available here
2.“Eurostemcell.” Mesenchymal Stem Cells: The ‘Other’ Bone Marrow Stem Cells, 5 Nov. 2015. Available here