The requirements of the several protoplasts must be met by supplies from without, and, as many of them are deep seated, varieties of need arise, so that various members of the colony are set apart for special duties, masses of them being devoted to the discharge of one function, others to that of another, and so on.
There is little wonder, then, that in a colony of protoplasts such as constitute a large plant a considerable degree of differentiation is evident, bearing upon the question of water supply.
Others are devoted to the work of carrying it to the protoplasts situated in the interior and at the extremities of the plant, a conducting system of considerable complexity being the result.
Communication between the various protoplasts of the colony is, however, carried on by means of fine protoplasmic threads, which are continuous through the cell-walls.
Instead of regarding these as only ministering to the construction of the bulky portions, the living protoplasts take the first place as the essential portion of the tree, and all the other features are important mainly as ministering to their individual well-being and to their multiplication.
The latter feature is the growth of the tree, the well-being of the protoplasts is its life and health.
The formation and gradually increasing thickness of its bark are explained by the continually increasing need of adequate protection to the living cortex, under the strain of the increasing framework which the enormous multiplication of its living protoplasts demands, and the development of which leads to continual rupture of the exterior.
All these points of structure can only be correctly interpreted after a consideration of the needs of the individual protoplasts, and of the large colony of which they are members.
But these protective layers are in the main impermeable by gases and by either liquid or vapour, and prevent the access of either to the protoplasts which need them.
It constitutes practically the exterior environment of the protoplasts, though it is ramifying through the interior of the plant.
The latter function has been found to be of extreme importance in the case of plants exposed to the direct access of the suns rays, the heat of which would rapidly cause the death of the protoplasts were it not employed in the evaporation of the water.
The Ascent of Water in Trees.The supply of water to the peripheral protoplasts of a tree is consequently of the first importance.
The supply of energy to the several protoplasts which make up the body of a plant is as necessary as is the transport to them of the food they need; indeed, the two things are inseparably connected.
The question of the distribution of this stored energy to the separate protoplasts of the plant can be seen to be the same problem as the distribution of the food.
In the lowliest plants growth may be co-extensive with the plantbody; in all plants of any considerable size, however, it is localized in particular regions, and in them it is associated with the formation of new protoplasts or cells.
By the multiplication of the protoplasts in these merismatic areas the substance of the plant is increased.
In other words, as these growing regions consist of cells, the growth of the entire organ or plant will depend upon the behaviour of the cells or protoplasts of which the merismatic tissues are composed.
Again, the degree of differentiation is very slight anatomically, but delicate protoplasmic threads have been shown to extend through all cell-walls, connecting together all the protoplasts of a plant.
Cell Membrane.The membrane which surrounds the protoplasts in the majority of plants is typically composed of cellulose, together with a number of other substances which are known as pectic compounds.
Apart from their dependence in various ways upon neighboring cells, the protoplasts of all plants are probably connected together by fine strands of protoplasm which pass through the cell-wall (Tangl, Russow, Gardiner, Kienitz-Gerloff and others) ___________
Gaps then appear in the apposed surfaces, usually at the isthmus; the entire protoplasts either pass out to melt into one another clear of the old walls, or partly pass out and fuse without complete detachment from the old walls.