5 Facts on Food vacuole in animal cell (Formation, Function)

Food vacuoles are bag like structures bound with flexible membrane. Let us discuss the food vacuoles in detail below.

Vacuoles are of many different types depending on the cells they present in, such as, food vacuoles, sap vacuoles, contractile vacuoles, air vacuoles, which helps the cells in many different ways. Sap vacuoles helps in storing minerals and nutrients, contractile vacuole functions in osmoregulation and excretion.

Sap vacuoles contain dissolved organic and inorganic molecules, stores food and nutrients as well. Let us focus on food vacuoles in animal cells and discuss the facts like which animals have food vacuoles, where they found inside the cells and what are their functions, in details below.

Which animals have food vacuole?

Food vacuoles are found in many different organisms. Let us discuss in details which animals contain food vacuoles.

All cells in animals (multicellular eukaryotes), plants, fungi (unicellular and multicellular) and protists contain food vacuoles. In these cells food vacuoles are involved in digestion, storage, excretion and osmoregulation.

Where are food vacuoles found in animal cell?

Vacuoles are small bubbles that are present within the cells. Let us discuss below where the food vacuoles are found in animal cells.

Single-layered food vacuoles are found inside the cytoplasm of the animal cells. Food vacuoles are also found in the cytoplasm of plants, protists and fungi.

How are food vacuoles formed in animal cell?

Formation of food vacuole takes place from a unicellular to a multicellular organism. Let us discuss how this formation occurs in an animal cell.

Steps in the formation of a food vacuole is listed below:

  • The formation of food vacuoles occurs with the help of phagosomes (vesicles which are formed around the particle being phagocytosed), endosomes (intracellular sorting organelles) and lysosomes (digestive system inside the cells).
  • The endosomes and phagosomes move towards the center inside the cells and then these two units fuses with the lysosomes for the formation of food vacuoles.
  • The formation of food vacuole starts in the presence of food particles when the vacuole engulfs the food from the cytoplasm.

Food vacuole functions in animal cell

Food vacuoles are small sac like units that performs specialized functions inside the cells. Let us look into the details of functions of food vacuoles.

The major functions of food vacuoles are given below:

  • Food vacuoles has a digestive role inside the cell and is also known as intracellular stomach.
  • Food vacuoles functions in breaking down the food materials into small nutrients and minerals and then release them into cell cytoplasm to be used by the cells for its function.
  • Food vacuoles are filled with hydrolyzing enzymes which are utilized for the food breakdown.
  • Food vacuoles also act as a storage unit inside the cells. They can store food as well as water for later use when cells does not get enough nutrients from external sources.

Food vacuole structure in animal cell

Food vacuoles vary in shape and sizes as they do not have a specific structure. Let us discuss about the structure of food vacuoles in animal cells.

1024px Biological cell vacuole.svg
Image credits: Animal cell vacuole by MesserWoland and Szczepan1990 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A cell membrane is present outside the vacuole which segregates the contents of the vacuoles from the cytoplasm. The food vacuoles present in animal cells are highly linked both structurally and functionally to the lysosomes.


To conclude the article, we can say that food vacuoles play a significant role inside the animal cells. Food vacuoles help in providing the necessary nutrients and minerals to the cells when external food sources are not available.  

Read more about Food Vacuole In Plant Cells, Food Vacuole In Protists and Food Vacuole In Fungi.

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