Get a free home demo of LearnNext

Available for CBSE, ICSE and State Board syllabus.
Call our LearnNext Expert on 1800 419 1234 (tollfree)
OR submit details below for a call back


Cell Structure

Have a doubt? Clear it now.
live_help Have a doubt, Ask our Expert Ask Now
format_list_bulleted Take this Lesson Test Start Test

Cell Structure - Lesson Summary

The cell is the fundamental and structural unit of life.

Eukaryotic cells
Eukaryotic cells are the cells which possess a definite nucleus with a distinct nuclear membrane. Let us observe the contents of a eukaryotic cell. The living structures of a cell are called as cell organelles.

Cell wall: It is the non-living outermost covering of the cell. The cell wall is composed of cellulose and is permeable. It separates the contents of the cell from the surroundings. It gives shape and protection to the cell. It is present only in plant cells.


Functions of cell wall
    •  Cell wall provides rigidity and shape to the cell.
    •  Cell wall is a dead structure but permeable to substances.
    •  Cell wall is made mainly of cellulose.
    •  Cell wall is thick and protective in function.

Cell membrane: It is also called as plasma membrane. It is present both in animal and plant cells. It is a thin living membrane made of lipoproteins. It comprises three layers, a lipid layer sandwiched between two protein layers. It is a selectively permeable membrane. 


Functions of cell membrane

    •  It maintains the shape of the cell. It separates the cellular contents from the external environment.
    •  It helps in absorption of mechanical shocks and protects the cell from injury.
    •  It allows the movement of some substances into and out of the cell. Movement of substances through this semi-permeable membrane can be by the process of diffusion, osmosis etc.
    •  It forms the membrane for various cell organelles.
    •  It keeps the adjacent cells in contact.
    •  Its infolds help in absorption of materials by the process of pinocytosis or phagocytosis.
    •  Its outfolds increase the area for absorption.

Difference between diffusion and osmosis

              DIFFUSION                          OSMOSIS It is the process by which molecules spread from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. It is a process by which solvent molecules move from a region of low concentration to theregion of high concentration through a semipermeable membrane. Diffusion occurs in all the mediums. Diffusing particles can belong to either one of the states, solid, liquid or a gas. Osmosis takes place only in liquid medium and only the solvent molecules can move from one place to another. Semipermeable membrane may not be present. Presence of semipermeable membraneseparating the two liquids is necessary. Different types of diffusion may include Brownian motion, facilitated diffusion etc. Forward osmosis and reverse osmosis are the types of osmosis.

Nucleus:  A true nucleus acts as the control centre of the cell.  It is covered by a two layered, perforated nuclear membrane allowing substances to enter and leave the nucleus. Nucleus is filled with semifluid colloidal substance called as nucleoplasm in which float the nucleolus and the chromatin fibres. The nucleus contains chromosomes, which are composed of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and proteins. 


Functions of nucleus
    •  Nucleus controls all the activities of the cell.
    •  As the nucleus carries genetic information in the form of DNA, it plays a major role in cell division and cell development. The functional segments of DNA are called genes.
    •  Nucleus plays an important role in protein synthesis and transmission of characters from one generation to another generation.

Cytoplasm: It is a jelly like viscous substance occupying entire cell except the nucleus. The cytoplasm supports and protects the cell organelles that perform different metabolic functions. Cell organelles include endoplasmic reticulum, Ribosomes, Golgi apparatus, Mitochondria, Plastids, Lysosomes, and Vacuoles. Inclusions are the non-living substances present in the cytoplasm. 


                   CYTOPLASM                NUCLEOPLASM It is a jelly like homogeneous substance. It is a transparent fluid present in the nucleus. Protoplasmic part which lies outside the nucleus. Protoplasmic part which is present inside the nucleus. Cell organelles and inclusions are suspended in the cytoplasm. Chromatin fibres and nucleolus are suspended. Both inorganic and organic molecules are present. Composition is rich in nucleotides.

Endoplasmic reticulum: It is a network of tubules and flattened sacs perform various activities in the cell. The space inside the endoplasmic reticulum is called as lumen. Endoplasmic reticulum serves as a channel for the transport of proteins between various regions of the cytoplasm. Two types of endoplasmic reticulum are Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum (RER) and Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum (SER).


  ROUGH ENDOPLASMIC RETICULUM    SMOOTH ENDOPLASMIC RETICULUM These are rough at surface and are associated with ribosomes. These are smooth at surface and are associated with Golgi bodies. These are responsible for the synthesis of proteins and enzymes. These are responsible for the synthesis of glycogen, lipids etc. These provide structural framework for the cell.  These take part in the synthesis of fats in adipose cells.  These also act as channels for quick transport. These can also detoxify drugs and some poisons. These help in the synthesis of membranes. These help in the formation of rhodopsin from vitamin A.

Ribosomes: These are naked granules with no membrane. They are found scattered in the cytoplasm or attached to the outside of the endoplasmic reticulum. They are the biofactories of proteins. Ribosomes can be free ribosomes scattered in the cytoplasm or bound ribosomes seen attached to endoplasmic reticulum. Ribosomes are made up of two subunits, the larger subunit and the smaller subunit. 70s ribosomes are present in prokaryotes and 80s ribosomes are present in eukaryotes.


Functions of ribosomes
    •  Ribosomes are considered to be the biofactories since they are the sites of protein synthesis.
    •  They are the lodging sites for many enzymes participating in the process of protein synthesis.

Golgi apparatus: These cell organelles are named after the biologist, Camillo Golgi, who first described it. The Golgi consists of a stack of membrane-bounded cisternae located between the endoplasmic reticulum and the cell surface.


Functions of Golgi apparatus
    •  It synthesises certain biopolymers.
    •  It also consists of some processing enzymes which alter some proteins and phospholipids synthesised by endoplasmic reticulum.

Mitochondria: These are cellular organelles termed as ‘power houses of the cells’. These are bounded by a double membrane. The outer membrane is smooth while the inner membrane is thrown into folds called as cristae. The cristae increase the area of cellular respiration. Cristae on their surface possess structures called oxysomes. Oxysomes are rich in ATP synthetase enzyme. Both the membranes are separated by intermembrane space. Mitochondrial matrix is rich in respiratory enzymes. Mitochondria have their own DNA, RNA and ribosomes to synthesise respiratory enzymes. The enzymes in the mitochondria oxidise glucose molecules to produce energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP.


Functions of mitochondria

    •  These synthesise energy rich ATP molecules.
    •  These help in the synthesis of fatty acid, amino acids, steroids by providing them with biological intermediates.

Lysosomes: Lysosomes are membranous sacs filled with enzymes. The enzymes are hydrolytic enzymes which are capable of digesting cellular macromolecules. When the cell gets damaged, the lysosome may burst and its enzymes may digest thecell itself. Hence, lysosomes are called as ‘suicidal bags’.


Functions of lysosomes

    •  Help in killing foreign cells referred to as pathogens.
    •  Help in destroying the diseased cells.

Vacuoles: Vacuoles are membrane bound compartments present in both plant and animal cells. These organelles store water, waste products, and substances like amino acids, sugars and proteins. The fluid in the vacuoles is called ‘cell sap’. A vacuole is covered by a living membrane called “tonoplast”. Vacuoles also provide buoyancy to the cell.


Functions of vacuoles
    •  They help the cell to maintain its buoyancy and turgidity.
    •  They play an important role in the growth of the cell

Plastids: These are major organelles found only in the cells of plants and algae. These are of three types namely, Chloroplasts, Chromoplasts and Leucoplasts.

a) Chloroplasts are one kind of plastids present mainly in plant cells. Chloroplasts contain green pigment called as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll absorbs energy from the sunlight necessary for photosynthesis.
b) Chromoplasts are the organelles which provide bright colours to the plant structures like buds, flowers etc.
c) Leucoplasts are the organelles which store starch, oils and protein granules.


Functions of plastids
    •  Plastids are responsible for synthesisof food.
    •  Plastids are responsible for colouration of different parts of the plant.
    •  Plastids are responsible for storage of food molecules.

Difference between plant cells and animal cells 

               PLANT CELLS                  ANIMAL CELLS Plant cells possess cell wall. Animal cells do not possess cell wall. Chloroplasts are present in plant cells. Animal cells do not possess chloroplasts. Plant cells are almost rectangular in shape. Animal cells are round in shape. Plant cells possess large vacuoles. Animal cells have many small vacuoles. Cilia rarely occur in plant cells. Cilia are present in animal cells. Higher plants do not possess centrioles. Animal cells do contain centrioles.  Plant cells have no or less number of lysosomes. Animal cells possess many number of vacuoles.    


Feel the LearnNext Experience on App

Download app, watch sample animated video lessons and get a free trial.

Desktop Download Now
Try LearnNext at home

Get a free home demo. Book an appointment now!