Are there any issues with a plant (specifically a multicellular organism that gains energy solely through photosynthesis) having soft cells with no cell walls, similar to animal cells?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You mean "land plant", algae without cell walls aren't acceptable? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ Why would there be any issues? Such an organism would of course be structurally and physiologically very different from an Earth land plant, because without cell walls it cannot use turgor pressure; so it would use some other mechanisms to stiffen it's leaves, to elongate its shoots, and so on. (Note that the cell walls themselves are not rigid or stiff; it is the pressure of the fluid inside which stiffens the cell. Think how squishy an empty PET bottle is, whereas when full of water it is stiff and rigid.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


You can leave out cell walls (or any other undesired property). You just have to deal with the consequences.

As AlexP notes in a comment, without cell walls you lose the ability to maintain form via turgor pressure. So, you need to decide how your space-plants will deal with that. And there are lots of ways they can do it:

  1. Stick to whatever surface is available
  2. Live strictly as blob-like colonies
  3. Float on the water's surface
  4. Form mutualistic partnerships with another organism (like bigger version of lichen)
  5. Become more like animals (like a photosynthetic coral)
  6. Evolve a skeleton
  7. ...

I'd suggest you start looking at this from the other direction. What do you want your plants to be like? Can you make all of that happen without cell walls? If yes, then you don't need cell walls.

Depending on how extreme you get, you might end up with something that doesn't seem like a plant. But if it still meets your definition, so what?


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