Oil body

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Not to be confused with Elaiosome, a multicellular structure found in seeds.

An oil body is a lipid-containing structure found in plant cells. The term can refer to at least two distinct kinds of structures in different kinds of plants.

Oil bodies in liverworts[edit]

Liverwort oil bodies are structures unique to liverworts that contain isoprenoid essential oils and are surrounded by a single membrane.[1] The size, shape, color, and number of oil bodies per cell is characteristic of certain species and may be used to identify these.

Oil bodies in vascular plants[edit]

Some species of vascular plants also contain intracellular structures called oil bodies. Vascular plant oil bodies consist mainly of triacylglycerols surrounded by a layer consisting of phospholipids and the protein oleosin.[2] These oil bodies occur largely in seeds but also occur in other plant parts, including leaves.[3]


Microscopic views of liverwort cells, showing a variety of oil body shapes and arrangements.


  1. ^ Suire et al. Cellular Localization of Isoprenoid Biosynthetic Enzymes in Marchantia polymorpha. Uncovering a New Role of Oil Bodies. Plant Physiology November 2000 vol. 124 no. 3 971-978. doi:10.1104/pp.124.3.971
  2. ^ Tzen & Huang. Surface structure and properties of plant seed oil bodies. Journal of Cell Biology 1992 vol. 117 no. 2 327-335 doi:10.1083/jcb.117.2.327
  3. ^ Lersten et al. Oil bodies in leaf mesophyll cells of angiosperms: overview and a selected survey. American Journal of Botany. 1 December 2006 vol. 93 no. 12 1731-1739. doi:10.3732/ajb.93.12.1731