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CELLULAR BASIS OF LIFE Food production of plants occur in the

parenchyma cells of leaves. They are usually made of


Discovery of the Cell relatively large cells. Their thin cell walls make possible
the easy exchange of water and nutrients between cells.
A scientist named Robert Hooke was the first Parenchyma cells are also found in the growth regions of
person to use the term cells to refer to the tiny structures stems and roots and play an important role in wound
found in organisms. Around 1665, Hooke observed a healing and the regeneration of these parts.
piece of cork with the use of a microscope which he Parenchyma cells serve as storage for food, forming the
himself made. There he observed boxlike compartments fleshy tissues of fruits and vegetables.
in the cork. Hooke thought they looked like the small
rooms or cells of old monasteries. He called these room- Collenchyma cells have uneven cell walls.
like structures in cork, cells. What Hooke really saw were These cell walls are thicker than those of the
the outer boundaries of the cells. They looked like empty parenchyma cells. Collenchyma cells are elongated and
boxes because the cells were dead. can stretch to provide mechanical support to elongating
parts of the plant. Collenchyma cells are commonly
Many other scientists studied cells. In 1831 found below epidermal regions of the stems.
Robert Brown reported seeing small bodies in the cells
he studied and called them nuclei (singular form is Sclerenchyma cells have very thick walls to
nucleus). Years later in 1839, Johannes Purkinje support mature plant parts like fibers and seeds. They
observed the complex fluid inside the cells and named it are usually dead cells. Their cell walls have lignin that
protoplasm. makes them waterproof. Plant fibers and stone cells of
fruits like chico as well as seed coats of coconut shells
The Cell Theory are made of sclerenchyma cells.
In the late 1830s two German scientists, Mathias Like plants, animals have cells with different
J. Schleiden, a plant biologist, and Theodor Schwann, forms, sizes, and shapes that are related to their
an animal biologist, worked on various organisms— functions.
Schleiden, on plants, and Schwann, on animals. They
worked separately but they arrived at the same Smooth muscle cells are elongated and have
conclusion, which came to be known as the cell theory. pointed ends. The nucleus of each cell is found near the
According to this theory, all organisms are made up of center of the cell. Smooth muscle cells are found in
fundamental units called cells. Cells are not only units of internal organs except in the heart and in the walls of
structure; they are also units of function in organisms. blood vessels.
This means that individual cells have specific roles in the
organism. Skeletal muscle cells are also called striated
muscle cells because of their striped appearance when
Another German physician, Rudolf Virchow, viewed under a compound microscope. They are large
discovered that cells increased in number by dividing cells.
and formed new cells. Thus, the cell theory also states
that new cells arise or come from existing cells. The nerve cell or neuron consists of an
enlarged portion, the cell body which contains the
Plant and Animal Cells nucleus and other organelles. Two types of nerve fibers,
the dendrites and the axon extend from the cell body. In
Plants and animals consist of cells that have humans, these nerve fibers can reach one metre long.
distinct parts. These parts carry out functions that enable
the cells to maintain their activities and sustain life. Erythrocytes, commonly known as red blood
cells, are unique because they usually lose their nuclei
as they develop. This is to give way to their important
function as carriers of oxygen to the different parts of the
body. However, red blood cells of most of the other
vertebrates like birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish
retain their nuclei throughout their lifespan.

Cellular Organelles

With the improvements made in the earlier light


microscopes and the invention of the electron
microscope, the finer structures or ultrastructures called
organelles, of the cell become observable. These
organelles have specific functions.

The diagrams of the generalized plant and


animal cells in Figure 2.7 are a result of putting together
several electron micrographs or pictures as seen No movement of Cellular materials often
under the electron microscope. cellular materials within appears to move (streaming)
the cell within the cell
Notice that in Figure 2.7 the whole cell is Have simple Have complex cytoskeleton
enclosed by plasma membrane. All the cell contents cytoskeleton
within the plasma membrane but outside the nucleus Have solid flagella Have complex tubular flagella
make up the cytoplasm. It has a semifluid portion, the Do not undergo cell Undergo cell division by
cytosol, where the organelles of the cell, except the division by mitosis mitosis
endoplasmic reticulum and the mitochondria, are Unicellular and Multicellular Organisms
suspended. Thus, the cytoplasm is not at all
homogeneous as it appears when viewed under a Organisms with more than one to a hundred,
compound microscope. thousands, or millions of cells are referred to as
multicellular. These organisms have different groups of
The nucleus is the prominent spherical specialized cells that perform specific functions. For
structure in the cell because it is larger than most of the example, some cells of a mango tree have a
other organelles. It serves as the control center, directing photosynthetic function; others are for storage of food.
and coordinating all the activities of the cell. The nucleus Some of your body cells transmit messages while others
contains the chromosomes with DNA and may have a transport oxygen from the lungs to various parts of the
nucleolus or two nucleoli. The nucleolus appears as a body.
dark round body inside the nucleus where RNA are
transcribed and assembled. These have important roles Other organisms exist as a single-celled
in cell division and in heredity which will be discussed in organism and perform all functions within one cell. They
detail later. are called unicellular organisms. Bacteria, amoeba,
and yeasts are examples of unicellular organisms.
Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Cells
Uses of Cells and Cellular Products
What you have been reading and familiarizing
yourselves with are eukaryotic cells with a distinct Cells secrete certain substances during or after
nucleus enclosed by a membrane. Except for red blood cellular activity. Agriculture and other industries use
cells and plant cells like vessels, tracheids, and phloem products of cellular activities to improve yield or to
elements which when mature also lacks nucleus and produce industrial chemicals. Some cell secretions have
cytoplasm, eukaryotic cells make up most of an been used by people to promote health as well as to
organism’s body. Organisms with this kind of cells are increase production.
called eukaryotes. Some eukaryotes, such as amoeba
and paramecium, are single-celled. Prokaryotes and eukaryotes have long been
used in traditional biotechnology especially in the food
Some very small and simple, single-celled production process. The bacterium Acetobacter for
organisms like bacteria and cyanobacteria do not have example, produces an enzyme used to ferment sugar
well-defined membrane-enclosed nucleus and and to produce acetic acid like vinegar.
organelles. Such cells are called prokaryotic cells.
Organisms with prokaryotic cells are called Genetic engineering through recombinant DNA
prokaryotes. technology has made possible, for example, the
production of interferon using the bacteria Escherichia
In a bacterial cell, one chromosome consisting coli in large quantities and at lower cose. Interferon is a
of a thin, long circular molecule of double-stranded DNA protein that slows down the growth of viruses and
is attached to the plasma membrane. Since there is only inhibits the transformation of normal cells to tumor cells.
one chromosome, genes are not in pairs unlike in It is currently used to treat certain types of cancer.
eukaryotes. The mesosome, an infolding of the plasma
membrane, aids in moving particles out of the bacterium. Gene therapy is another application of
Prokaryotes have small circular DNA called plasmids recombinant DNA technology. Here, a gene from a
scattered in the cytoplasm. Their cell walls are rigid and healthy human cell is inserted into the gene of a virus.
are made of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins, unlike The virus containing the inserted gene then enters
the cell walls of plant cells which are made of cellulose. defective cells such as bone marrow cells of bone
cancer patients. The DNA of the healthy gene becomes
Prokaryotes Eukaryotes inserted into the defective cell’s DNA. The “corrected”
No nucleus With nucleus cell is injected back and multiplies in the patient, curing
No membrane- With membrane-enclosed him or her of the disease.
enclosed organelles organelles
Have one chromosome Have chromosomes in pairs
Have no cellulose in Have cellulose in cell walls
cell walls
Have smaller Have larger ribosomes
ribosomes