The tracheids are dead when they reach functional maturity. Their shape is very elongated, long and they are tapered. There is a primary and a secondary cell wall that is lignified and it contains pits but there are no perforations. In xylems, tracheid is the chief water-conducting element in the lower vascular plants and the gymnosperms. The lignified thick cell wall is developed by all the tracheary elements. The protoplast at maturity breaks down and it gets disappeared. The vascular plants possess the characteristic feature of having tracheary elements that distinguish then from the non-vascular plants. The tracheids have two major functions. It has a role in the transport system and it also provides structural support. There are thickenings present in the secondary walls that have several forms- as continuous helices known as spiral or helical, as annular rings, as transverse nets known as scalariform, as a network known as reticulate, or in the form of extensive thickening. In softwoods, the main cell type is the tracheid and it provides the maximum amount of structural support.
Tracheids are known as conducting elements that are mostly found in ferns and gymnosperms. The tracheids may also be established in angiosperms. The tracheid cells possess pointed ends. When the secondary wall of the cell gets thickened, the tracheids are observed to become highly lignified and they become dead. Mechanical support is provided to the plants by the tracheids. The tracheids can also carry water against the gravitational force because of their greater ratio of their surface area to volume. They function for support and also conduct water in an upward direction. The dissolved minerals are also carried by the tracheids in vascular plants. Tracheids are found in conifers. The mechanical support function of tracheids occurs because of the existence of lignified walls. Solutes and water are transported by tracheids from the roots to the plant’s stem and leaves. In gymnosperms, tracheids are found to be the major transporting elements.
Vessels vs tracheid
Vessels and tracheids are similar in several ways. Some of the similarities are given below:
Vessels and tracheids are the xylem tissueâ€™s components.
Both provide the plant with mechanical support and they assist in water conduction along the stem.
Vessels as well as tracheids are tubular.
There is a secondary lignification observed in both cells. On maturity, they become dead.
Differences between tracheids and vessels
The tracheids are main conducting elements that are located in gymnosperms and pteridophytes whereas the vessels are the main conducting elements that are located in angiosperms. The origination of tracheids occurs from single cells and on the contrary, the vessel members form long continuous tubes and they arise from a longitudinal list of cells. Vessels have a wider diameter whereas tracheids have a narrow diameter. The tracheids have a fewer number of large pits, but vessels have a large number of small pits. Vessels are perforated cells, and the tracheids are imperforated cells. Tracheids do not have perforations and hence, they conduct water less efficiently. Vessels have perforations and hence they conduct water more efficiently. Tracheids have a more thickened wall that has a narrow lumen. Vessels have less thickened walls that have a large lumen. Tracheids are assumed to be primitive when compared to vessels.
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