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Space within a cell that is empty of cytoplasm, lined with a membrane, and filled with fluid. Especially in protozoans, vacuoles perform functions such as storage, ingestion, digestion, excretion, and expulsion of excess water. The large central vacuoles often found in plant cells enable them to attain a large size without accumulating the bulk that would make metabolism difficult.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on vacuole, visit Britannica.com.