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Cell structure and function


Plant and animal cells contain organelles that perform different roles.

6. Structures in a cell


identify key structures in plant and animal

cell function.


perform their jobs.

describe the roles of these structures in

explain how their structure enables them to

What is a cell?
Cells are the basic unit of life. They are small membranebound structures containing several smaller structures called
There are two main categories of cell, each of which have
important different structural properties:

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eukaryotic cell, including

the cells of animals and

prokaryotic cell, including

bacterial cells.

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A brief history

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The cell membrane and cytoplasm

All cells, and all true
organelles, are contained
within a membrane, based
on a phospholipid bilayer.
The cell membrane holds a
cell together and controls
what enters and leaves the
cytoplasm, as it is a selectively permeable barrier.
The cytoplasm comprises a liquid called cytosol, and all the
organelles suspended in it (except the nucleus in eukaryotes).
The cell membrane and cytoplasm are universal features
of the living cell.
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The universal energy carrier

Cells need a constant supply of energy to carry out vital
processes such as protein synthesis, DNA replication and
cell division.
This energy originally comes from
fuel molecules, such as glucose,
consumed by the organism. These
are broken down during aerobic or
anaerobic respiration, and the
energy released is used to make
adenosine triphosphate (ATP).



ATP diffuses throughout the cell, and breaks down into

adenosine diphosphate (ADP), releasing chemical energy
wherever it is needed.
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What is a eukaryote?
A eukaryote is any organism
consisting of one or more cells that
contain DNA in a membrane-bound
nucleus, separate from the cytoplasm.
Eukaryotes include:




a diverse group known as the

protists (or protoctists).

All eukaryotic cells contain a large number of specialized,

membrane-bound organelles.
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The organelles of protein synthesis

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The mitochondrion is an energy-generating organelle.
It is surrounded by two membranes. The inner layer folds
inwards to form the cristae. The cristae project into a liquid
called the matrix.
outer membrane


inner membrane
The inner membrane is coated in enzymes, which catalyze
the reactions of aerobic respiration to produce ATP.
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Microtubules and the cytoskeleton

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Which organelle?

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Plant cells
Plant cells share all the common features of animal cells,
but also contain some additional organelles.
Plants gain all their energy from sunlight; cells in their leaves
contain many chloroplasts to convert this into a useful form.
Every plant cell is
surrounded by a cell
wall, and contains
one or more
permanent vacuoles.
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cell wall
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Chloroplasts use carbon dioxide, water and light energy to
build sugars. They are present in all green plants.
The chloroplast is surrounded by a double membrane. It is
filled with a liquid called the stroma, and contains stacks
of thylakoid membranes called grana.
thylakoid membrane
The thylakoid membranes are the site of photosynthesis.
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Permanent vacuoles only exist in plant cells. Animal cells
can contain temporary vacuoles but they are not common
A vacuole consists of a
membrane called the
tonoplast, filled with cell
sap a watery solution
of different substances,
including sugars,
enzymes and pigments.
The vacuole is important in keeping the cell firm. When the
vacuole is full of sap the cell is said to be turgid.
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The cell wall

The cell wall of a plant cell gives it support and structure.
It is made of the polysaccharide cellulose, and can function
as a carbohydrate store by varying the amount of cellulose
it holds.
The cell wall does not seal
off a cell completely from its
neighbours. There are
pores within the walls called
plasmodesmata. These
connect two cells together
by their cytoplasm, enabling
the exchange and transport
of substances.
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Eukaryotic organelles

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Composed of a phospholipid bilayer, The membrane is selectively permeable and

with proteins .embedded in the layer regulates the
transport of materials into and out of the cell.
cell contents from the outside environment.


Cytoplasm is a thick, gelatinous,

semi-transparent fluid.

The cytoplasm maintains cell shape and stores

chemicals needed by the cell for metabolic


The nucleus is the largest organelle

and is surrounded
by a nuclear envelope. The envelope
has nuclear pores
which allow the movement of
molecules through it. The
nucleus contains chromatin.

The nucleus controls/regulates cellular activity and

houses genetic material called chromatin, DNA and
proteins, which comes the instruction for making


Dense spherical structure in the

middle of the nucleus.

The nucleolus makes RNA and ribosomes.

reticulum (ER)

Network of membrane bound

flattened sacs called
cisternae studded with ribosomes.

Protein synthesis takes place on the ribosomes and

the newly synthesised proteins are transported to
the Golgi apparatus.

reticulum (ER)

Network of membrane bound

flattened sacs called
cisternae. No ribosomes..

Responsible for synthesis and transport of lipids

and carbohydrates.

Golgi apparatus

A stack of membrane bound

flattened sacs.

Newly made proteins are received here from the

rough ER. The Golgi apparatus modifies them and


Small spherical membrane

bound sacs with fluid inside.

Transport vesicles are used to transport

materials inside
the cell and secretory vesicles transport
proteins that
are to be released from the cell, to the cell


Small spherical membrane

bound sacs containing
hydrolytic enzymes.

They break down waste material including old



Tiny organelles attached to

rough ER or free floating in the
cell. They consist of two subunits and they are not
surrounded by a membrane.

Protein synthesis occurs at the ribosomes.


They have two membranes. The They are the site of the final stages of cellular
inner membrane is highly folded respiration.
to form cristae. The central part
called the matrix. They can be
seen as long in shape or
spherical depending on which

1. Can you list all the organelles present in a

eukaryotic cell?
2. Think about the differences and similarities
between a plant and animal cell.
3. Find different images on the internet of plant
and animal cells and identify the organelles.

All plant cells have a

primary cell wall
composed mostly of
cellulose, and some
cells deposit a
secondary cell wall that
is usually impregnated
with lignin, a rigid
polymer that is the
main component of

Mitochondrion x 2000

Nucleus and nucleolus x 2000

Lysosomes and golgi apparatus x