You are on page 1of 7

Chapter 3.

After atoms and molecules, the next higher level of complexity in living organisms includes
cells and their components. All living things are made up of cells. Some cell components occur in
all living cells, while others occur only in the cells of leaves, roots, or other parts of plants.
Depending on their components, cells can divide, grow, transport substance, secrete substances, or
harvest energy from organic molecules. Most types of cells also contain genetic material that
controls the activities of the cell. This genetic material is inherited by new cells after cell division.
The Cell Theory
The modern version states that:
- Cells are the morphological and physiological units of all living things.
- The properties of a given organism depend on those of its individual cells.
- Cells originate only from other cells, and continuity is maintained through the genetic
Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells
All living species are composed of eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells. The differences between
prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are:
Prokaryotic Cell Eukaryotic Cell
nuclear membrane absent present
chromosomes usually singular, ring-shaped, consisting only multiple, not ring-shaped, consisting of DNA
of DNA, without associated proteins, and lack together with attached proteins and have
centromeres centromeres
organelles membrane-bound organelles are absent membrane-bound organelles are present in the
size diameter seldom exceeds 2 μm diameter typically 20 μm or more
capacity to lacks the capacity to differentiate into great capacity to differentiate in structure
differentiate specialized tissues in multi-cellular organisms w/in multi-cellular bodies
organisms occurs only as bacteria and cyanophytes (blue- makes up bodies of protists, fungi, plants, and
green algae) animals
Table 3.1. Differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

Structures Found in the Cell
Looking through a light microscope, the only animal cell structures that can be seen are the
nucleus, the cytoplasm, and the cell membrane. In plants cells, these structures can also be seen in
addition to the cell wall. Other organelles can only be seen through an electron microscope.
Organelles are usually membrane-bound structures inside the cytoplasm that have specific
metabolic functions. These organelles float in the hyaloplasm. The hyaloplasm, or cytosol, is the
clear, aqueous medium that bathes all cytoplasmic bodies and serves as a reservoir of solutes and
Organelles that are common in plants and animals include the cell membrane, the nucleus,
nucleoli, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, golgi apparatus, mitochondria, and microbodies.
Organelles that can only be seen in plants include the cell wall, central vacuole, and plastids.
Substances inside the cytoplasm that do not have metabolic roles are called inclusion bodies.
Inclusion bodies are passive, often very temporary materials such as pigments, secretory granules,
and aggregates of stored proteins,
lipids, or carbohydrates, which can be
utilized by the cell in its life processes.
Cell Membrane. The cell
membrane may also be called the
plasma membrane, plasmalemma, or
cytolemma. It is selectively permeable,
depending on the lipid content of the
membrane, allowing entry of certain
molecules into the cytoplasm while
disallowing others. The cell membrane
also contains pumps which regulate the
ion concentrations within the cell and
its immediate vicinity. It contains a
variety of enzymes and has specific
receptor sites which mediate important
cell functions such as endocytosis,
phagocytosis, antigen recognition, and
antibody production. Hormone-
Fig. 3.1. The phospholipid bi-layer that makes up the cell membrane.
triggered cellular events also depend on
specific surface receptors.

The cell membrane is composed of phospholipids and proteins. Phospholipids form the basic
structure of the membrane referred to as bi-layer, two parallel layers with their hydrophilic heads

facing the aquaeous medium on the membrane surface and their hydrophobic tails facing the
interior of the membrane. Proteins partially or completely penetrate the phospholipids bi-layer and
are responsible for functional properties of the membrane.
The Nucleus. The nucleus is usually the most conspicuous organelle in a cell. It contains most
of a cell’s DNA, which occurs with proteins in thread-like chromosomes. The nucleus is
surrounded by two membranes, together called the nuclear envelope. The outer membrane is
continuous with the endoplasmic reticulum. The inner and outer nuclear membranes are separated
by a space of 20-40 nm, except where they fuse to form pores in the envelope. These nuclear pores
Fig. 3.2. The different organelles found in the cytoplasm are small circular openings, 30-100 nm
in diameter, bordered by proteins that
probably influence the passage of molecules between the nucleus and the rest of the cell. Inside the
nucleus is a smaller structure, the nucleolus, which serves as the site for the synthesis of ribosomal
Microfilaments and Microtubules. Microfilaments are thread-like aggregates of protein
molecules that serve to maintain cell shape, bring about changes in cell shape, and allow cells to
contract. Microtubules are hollow tubules, much stouter than microfilaments, made of a unique
protein, tubulin. They too, can maintain cell shape, and also serve as spindle fibers that separate the
chromosomes during cell division.
Endoplasmic Reticulum. The endoplasmic reticulum is a network of channels or tubules
which constitutes the bulk of the endo-membrane system. It is continuous with the nuclear
membrane. Two regions of endoplasmic reticulum can be distinguished in electron micrographs.
One region is called the Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum because the many ribosomes attached to
it give it a rough appearance. In contrast, the other region is called the Smooth Endoplasmic
Reticulum because it has no ribosomes attached to it. The smooth ER, in most cells, makes up the
terminal portions of rough ER. It gives rise to transfer vesicles that carry substances synthesized
within the rough ER to other location, especially the golgi complex.
Ribosomes. Ribosomes are organelles that serve as the site for the biosynthesis of large
varieties of proteins destined either for extra- or intra-cellular use. Ribosomes are either attached to
membranes or move freely in the cytosol. The number of ribosomes varies among cell types and in
different stages of cell development. They are
especially abundant in dividing cells because these
cells make large amounts of protein.
Golgi Complex. A Golgi complex (Golgi
apparatus) is usually two-sided, with one side facing
the smooth ER and one side facing the plasma
membrane. They receive material from the smooth
ER, either through direct connections or in vesicles
released by the ER. These vesicles contain proteins,
lipids, and other substances, which are often
chemically modified in the golgi bodies and then
sorted into separate packets. These packets
eventually move to the edge of the golgi bodies near
the outer face, where the golgi body membrane is
pinched off into another vesicle. This vesicle moves
to the plasma membrane or to other sites in the cell. Fig. 3.3. Vesicles forming from the Golgi complex.

Vesicles that move to the plasma membrane are secretory vesicles, because they fuse with
plasma membrane and secrete their contents to the exterior of the cell. This type of secretion is

called exocytosis. Endocytosis, the reverse process, involves taking substances into the cell.
Pinocytosis is a type of endocytosis that involves taking up of liquids and diluted substances.
Phagocytosis, another type of endocytosis, involves taking in of larger substances even bacteria.
Substances secreted by exocytosis include polysaccharides used to build cell walls, nectars that
flowers secrete, and oils or other resinous chemicals secreted from the glands on leaves and stems
of mints and other fragrant plants.
Microbodies. The smallest membrane bound organelles in a cell are called microbodies.
These tiny organelles are often associated with membranes of the ER, but they may also be closely
associated with chloroplast and mitochondria. Different types of microbodies have specific enzymes
for certain metabolic pathways. Two of the most important kinds of microbodies in plants are
peroxisomes, which occur primarily in leaves, and glyoxysomes, which are common in
germinating oil-bearing seeds and the young seedlings that grow from them. Peroxisomes are the
major sites of oxygen utilization within the cell and are particularly rich in catalase which converts
toxic hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), formed during certain metabolic processes, into harmless water
and oxygen.

Fig. 3.4. The process of exocytosis.
Mitochondria. Many of the reactions of aerobic respiration are catalyzed by enzymes bound to
mitochondrial membranes. The chief function of the mitochondria is to supply energy to the cell
through cellular respiration, thus earning the distinction of being the “powerhouse of the cell”. A
cell may contain several hundred mitochondria, usually depending on the energy requirement of a
cell. Dividing cells and cells that are metabolically active need large amounts of energy and usually
have the largest numbers of mitochondria.
Vacuoles. Vacuoles are membranous sacs that enclose a variety of substances, often for only
temporary storage.
Fig. 3.5. The mitochondria.
Organelles Found Only in Plants
The Cell Wall. The most easily observed part of a
plant cell is the cell wall. In some cells, such as the cork
cells in bark, the cell wall is the only remnant of a
formerly living cell. Cell walls are dynamic parts of cells
that can grow and change their shape and composition.
Their composition varies in different cell types and from
one species to another. Up to 60% of a cell wall may be

cellulose; other components include hemicelluloses, pectins, lignins, and proteins. Almost all plant
cells have cellulose-containing cell walls.
Young cells and cells in actively growing areas have primary cell walls that are relatively thin
and flexible. Examples of such cells include the dividing cells at tips of roots and shoots. The
primary cell wall is usually 25% cellulose, the remainder being hemicelluloses, pectins, and
Certain kinds of cells stop growing when they reach maturity. When this occurs, these cells
form a secondary cell wall inside the primary cell wall. The secondary cell wall is more rigid than
the primary cell wall and therefore functions as a strong support structure. Although cellulose is one
of their main components, the secondary walls of cells in wood are up to 25% lignin, which adds
hardness and resists decay. Because of its lignin content, wood is one of the strongest materials
known. Unlike primary cell walls, secondary cell walls are rigid and lack glycoproteins. Most types
of cells that have secondary cell walls die when they reach maturity.
Some cell walls, such as those of cork cells also contain suberin. Suberized tissues inhibit water
loss through bark, which is why cork from the cork oak is useful in making stoppers for wine
Cells that adjoin one another are probably held together by pectins. The pectic layer between
cells is called the middle lamella.
Primary cell walls have thin areas where many tiny connections, called plasmodesmata (sing.
plasmodesma) occur between adjacent cells. Plasmodesmata are lined by the plasma membrane,
thereby forming an uninterrupted channel for the movement of materials from one cell to another.
This means that all cells in a plant are interconnected and have the potential to exchange substances
through the plasmodesmata. The structure of plasmodesmata and the frequency of their occurrence
in conducting and glandular cells suggest that these connections function in transport between cells.
Cells probably do not exchange all materials freely; neighboring cells can differentiate into different
cell types and maintain different internal concentrations of various chemicals. Water-conducting
tissue is an important exception to the general occurrence of plasmodesmata. Cells of this tissue die
as they mature, so they have no living material to share between them. Instead, they function as
inanimate “straws” formed by many cells.
Central Vacuoles. Vesicles from the ER and Golgi apparatus often fuse together to form a
central (water) vacuoles. Immature cells of plants and animals may contain several small vacuoles,
but in most plant cells these small vacuoles fuse into larger ones as the cell matures. A mature plant
cell typically has one large vacuole that can occupy up to 95% of the cell’s volume. The membrane
of the central vacuole has its own name, the tonoplast.
As plant cells grow, most of the enlargement results from the absorption of water by the
vacuoles. This absorption of water by the vacuole expands and pushes the rest of the cell’s contents
into a thin layer against the cell wall. Vacuoles that are filled with water create a force, called
turgor pressure, on the cell walls, which contributes to the structural rigidity of the cell.
In addition to water, vacuoles contain enzymes and other proteins, water-soluble pigments,
growth hormones, and ions. Vacuolar enzymes digest storage materials and components from other
organelles for recycling into the cytosol. Pigments impart bright colors to flowers, fruits, and other
plant parts. Some plants harbor toxic alkaloids or other secondary products in their vacuoles. Ions
such as potassium and chloride are stored in vacuoles for easy retrieval to the cytosol when needed
for cellular metabolism.

Plastids. Plastids are classified according to the kinds of pigments or storage products they
contain. Amyloplasts store starch and elaioplasts store oil. Colored, non-green plastids are
chromoplasts and are usually red, orange, or yellow. Chloroplasts are another type of plastid.
Pigments in chloroplasts include the chlorophylls, which create the green color of leaves and other
green organs, and the carotenoids, which are the yellow, orange, or red colors of autumn leaves,
tomatoes, and carrots. In addition to pigments, chloroplasts often contain starch and oil.
Comparison between Chloroplasts and Mitochondria
Two kinds of organelles, chloroplasts and mitochondria, produce most of the ATP needed for
cellular metabolism. These organelles are similar in several respects. Both are bounded by two
membranes, and much of their internal membranes is folded and stacked to form complex
compartments. Their internal membranes contain the enzyme ATPase, which uses the
electrochemical energy of protons to phosphorylate ADP to ATP. They both contain DNA that
controls synthesis of some of the enzymes necessary for their respective metabolic pathways.
Finally, both are semiautonomous, meaning they grow and divide in the cell on their own.
The differences between chloroplasts and mitochondria include their respective sources of
energy for making ATP, their appearance, and their composition. Chloroplasts use the energy of
light to make ATP, whereas mitochondria use the energy of chemical bonds. Chloroplasts contain
chlorophyll, which makes them green, while mitochondria are colorless. Photosynthesis occurs in
chloroplasts, and most respiration occurs in mitochondria. Each process requires a different set of
enzymes. Chloroplasts have many shapes and sizes, but they are generally larger than mitochondria,
which are often cigar-shaped.
Cell Division
There are two types of cell division that occur in living things depending on the type of cell:
mitosis and meiosis. Mitosis occurs in body cells (soma cells) while meiosis occurs only in sex
cells (egg cells and sperm cells).
Mitosis. Mitosis is the type of cell division resulting in equal number of chromosomes. This
ensures genetic equality of the daughter cells.
prophase metaphase anaphase telophase
chromosomes DNA complex coils arranged in a line centromeres divide, chromosomes reach
(chromatids attached to along the median chromatids move the general location of
one another by plane, centromeres toward opposite poles the centrioles
centromeres) and attached to spindle
becomes easily stained fibers
nucleolus disappears during late absent absent reappears
nuclear disappears during late absent absent reforms around each
membrane prophase group of chromosomes
centrioles and migrates to opposite spindle fibers attached spindle fibers shorten spindle fibers
spindle fibers poles, forms spindle to centromeres of pulling chromatids disappear
fibers chromatids
cellular intact intact intact indents at the point of
membrane the equatorial plane
dividing the cytolasm
into two
Table 3.2. Comparison between stages of mitosis.
Four phases comprise the mitotic division: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. In
prophase, genetic material becomes evident as distinct chromosomes that shorten, thicken, and
stain deeply. Towards the end of prophase the nuclear membrane and the nucleolus disappear. In
metaphase, chromosomes lie radially in an equatorial plate and separate. In anaphase, halved
chromosomes move toward their respective poles. Telophase is marked by the end of polar
movement, formation of nuclear membrane and the formation of cell membrane across the former
plane of the equatorial plate.
The period between cell divisions wherein the cell builds up genetic material to start another
cycle is called interphase. It is divided into three phases.
Gap1 (G1) usually lasts 8 hrs or longer depending on the type of cell and level of nutrition; characterized
by growth of daughter cells by undergoing internal chemical changes in preparation for DNA
Synthesis (S) typically lasts about 8 hrs; period of DNA replication or synthesis
Gap2 (G2) usually lasts 5 hrs; beginning of active mitosis, replication of organelles
Table 3.3. Description of the phases of interphase.
Meiosis. In meiosis, cell division results in the reduction of chromosomal number to haploid
(half the normal number of chromosomes) set. Daughter cells (egg and sperm cells) unite during
fertilization carrying genes from both parents to provide the correct number of chromosomes.
Although both types of cell division involves the same phase (prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and
telophase), meiotic cell division consists of two successive cell division named meiosis I and
meiosis II.
Meiosis I. In prophase I, the members of each chromosome pair come together (synapsis).
This is essential for the orderly separation of the two members of each chromosome pair in
the ensuing anaphase. Crossing-over may occur at this phase. Crossing over is the exchange
in position of one part of one strand of chromosomes with the equivalent part of the other
strand. During the metaphase I, the centromeres do not divide so during anaphase, the two
members of each homologous chromosomes pair are separated. Meiosis I is often called the
“reductional phase” because at its end each daughter cell contains only one member of each
chromosome pair, although each chromosome still consists of two DNA molecules, or
chromatids, held together by the undivided centromere.
Meiosis II. Depending on the species, meiosis II may begin at once or be delayed. In either
case, DNA replication does not occur. When meiosis II starts, the chromosomes move to the
midline of the new spindle. The centromeres finally divide and one of the two chromatids of
each chromosome passes to each daughter cell. The result is four haploid cells with each
chromosome now consisting of only one DNA molecule.