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Cells and Organisms

by | Mar 19, 2022 | Biotechnology, Biotechnology Basics

Cell: The Basic Unit of Life 

All organisms are made up of trillions of cells! All living species, including sharks, plants, cats, insects, bacteria, and humans, are made up of cells. Cells are frequently referred to be the essential building elements of life. However, the word “building blocks” implies that all cells are the same. Indeed, organisms differ from one another due to variations in their cells. There are several varieties of cells. 

Robert Hooke, in 1665 discovered cells. Hooke used a simple microscope to examine thin slices of cork and discovered that they were formed of many small, hollow structures that resemble rooms.

Van Leeuwenhoek was the first scientist in 1680 to claim that cells are alive beings, and he claimed that motion is an indication of life.

Cell theory, initially proposed by Matthias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann in 1839, says that all creatures consist of one or more cells, that cells are the fundamental structural and functional unit in all living beings, and that all cells originate from pre-existing cells. Cells first appeared on Earth around 4 billion years ago.

Cell Structure and Components 

Living creatures are classified into three categories (major types): eukarya, bacteria, and archaea. These domains are based on distinctions in cell architecture.

There are two types of cells: eukaryotic cells, which have a nucleus, and prokaryotic cells, which do not have a nucleus but do have a nucleoid area. Prokaryotes are single-celled creatures, whereas eukaryotes are multicellular organisms that can be single-celled or multicellular. Bacteria and archaea are prokaryotes, two of the three kingdoms of life.

    eukaryotic vs prokaryotic(Cells and Organisms)

Cells occur in various forms, ranging from the cells that make up a carrot to the cells that make up the human brain. However, many cells share specific components known as organelles.

Whether prokaryotic or eukaryotic, every cell has a membrane that envelops it, controls what passes in and out (it is selectively permeable), and maintains its electric potential. The cytoplasm occupies the majority of the cell’s volume inside the membrane. All cells (except red blood cells, which lack a cell nucleus and most organelles to allow maximum hemoglobin space) contain DNA, the hereditary material of genes, and RNA, which contains the information needed to build various proteins such as enzymes cell’s primary machinery. Cells also include various types of biomolecules.

Here are some of the essential organelles present in your body’s cells and the cells of many other creatures.

Nucleus: The nucleus is a tiny capsule within a cell. Commonly referred to as cell within a cell. The nucleus is the cell’s command center, containing DNA and telling the cell how to behave and react. It may be little, but it is incredibly vital. 

Cell Membrane: The cell membrane surrounds the cell and is responsible for keeping beneficial chemicals within the cell while keeping harmful ones out. The cell membrane is the outer layer of animal cells, while plant cells have an additional layer of protection called the cell wall, located outside the cell membrane.

Mitochondria: Mitochondria are bean-shaped organelles that consume glucose and oxygen molecules to produce energy that the cell may use.

Ribosomes: Ribosomes are small organelles that synthesize proteins. They might be seen freely floating in the cell or connected to the rough endoplasmic reticulum.

Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER): The ER produces and transports molecules throughout the cell. There are two forms of ER: rough, which is coated in ribosomes, and smooth, which is not.

Golgi Body: The Golgi body functions as the cell’s post office, packing proteins into little packets called vesicles and delivering them to wherever they are needed inside the cell.

Cytoplasm: Cytoplasm is a gel-like material that fills the cell rather than an organelle. The cell’s organelles are suspended in the cytoplasm and can move around inside it.

Plant cells typically include all of the same organelles as animal cells, plus a few additional organelles that assist them in meeting the demands of plants. Among these organelles are:

Cell Wall: Outside of the cell membrane, the cell wall is the waxy outer layer that surrounds plant cells. The cell wall provides additional protection, and its hard structure helps the plant stand on its own. When too much water enters the cell, the cell wall prevents it from expanding and exploding.

Chloroplasts: Chloroplasts are organelles that contain chlorophyll, a green material that helps plants to convert sunlight into the chemicals they require to produce energy.

Vacuole: Plant cells feature storage in the form of vacuoles, which are huge organelles that may store food, waste, and water. The vacuole can also aid in maintaining the proper amount of pressure in the cell and isolate anything that could be harmful to the cell. Animal cells have vacuoles as well, but plant cell vacuoles are larger and more numerous.

types of cells-Cells and Organisms

Organization of Life

We know that it all begins with the cell. Moreover, it comes to an end with the cell for other animals. Cells join together to create tissues in some cases, organs in others, organ systems in others, and organ systems in others unite to make an organism.

The living world may be divided into several layers. Many individual creatures, for example, can be classified into the following organizational levels:

Cell: The basic structural and functional unit of all living things.

Tissue: A collection of cells of the same kind.

Organ: A structure that is made up of one or more types of tissues. An organ’s tissues collaborate to accomplish a specific function. The brain, stomach, kidney, and liver are all examples of human organs. Roots, stalks, and leaves are examples of plant organs.

Organ system: A group of organs that collaborate to fulfill a certain function. Skeletal, neural, and reproductive systems are examples of organ systems in humans.

Organism: An individual living organism composed of one or more organ systems.

It is easier to think of the body’s architecture regarding fundamental organizational levels that rise in complexity: atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and organisms. Lower levels of organization constitute the foundation for higher levels. As a result, atoms unite to create molecules, molecules to form cells, cells to form tissues, tissues to form organs, organs to form organ systems, and organ systems to produce animals.

 

Organization of Life

 

Cell Growth and Development

Cell growth is defined as an increase in a cell’s total mass, including cytoplasmic, nuclear, and organelle volume. The development of cells occurs when the overall rate of cellular biosynthesis (biomolecule formation or anabolism) exceeds the overall rate of cellular breakdown (the destruction of biomolecules via the proteasome, lysosome, autophagy, or catabolism).

Cell division and the cell cycle are different processes that can occur alongside cell development during the process of cell proliferation. The cell is known as the “mother cell” develops and splits to form two “daughter cells.” Importantly, cell division and growth can occur independently of one another.

Cell Division

Cell division is typically classified into two main types: mitosis and meiosis. When we say “cell division,” that refers to mitosis, a process of creating new body cells. Meiosis is the process through which egg and sperm cells are formed.

Mitosis

Mitosis divides a single cell into two identical daughter cells (cell division). One cell divides once during mitosis to generate two identical cells. Mitosis is the process that is responsible for cell growth and cell replacement.

The process of mitosis is separated into five stages:

1. Interphase: In preparation for cell division, the DNA in the cell is replicated, resulting in two identical complete sets of chromosomes. There are two centrosomes outside of the nucleus, each with a pair of centrioles; these structures are essential for cell division. Microtubules extend from these centrosomes during interphase.

2. Prophase: The chromosomes condense into X-shaped structures visible under a microscope. Each chromosome in the prophase comprises two identical sister chromatids, hence, containing the same genetic material. These chromosomes are paired together in such a way that both copies of chromosome 1 are together, both copies of chromosome 2 are together, and so on. After the prophase, the membrane around the cell’s nucleus breaks, allowing the chromosomes to be released. The mitotic spindle comprises microtubules and some other proteins that span the cell between the centrioles as they move to opposite poles.

3. Metaphase: The chromosomes are precisely aligned end-to-end along the cell’s center (equator). The centrioles are now placed at the cell’s opposing poles. Mitotic spindle threads extend from them and connect to each sister chromatid.

4. Anaphase: The mitotic spindle then drags one chromatid to one pole and the other chromatid to the other pole, separating the sister chromatids.

5. Telophase: At each cell pole, a complete pair of chromosomes congregate. Each set of chromosomes forms a membrane, resulting in the development of two new nuclei. The single-cell then clamps in the middle, resulting in two separate daughter cells, each with a complete set of chromosomes packed within a nucleus. This is known as cytokinesis.

Meiosis

Meiosis is when a single cell divides twice to generate four cells with half the original genetic material. One cell divides twice during meiosis to produce four daughter cells.

These four daughter cells are haploid, meaning they have half the number of chromosomes as the parent cell. Meiosis is the process through which our sex cells or gametes are produced. (Females produce eggs, whereas men produce sperm.)

Meiosis is classified into nine phases. These are divided into two parts: the first time the cell divides (meiosis I) and the second time the cell divides (meiosis II):

 Meiosis I

  • Interphase: Same as interphase in mitosis
  • Prophase I: Same as prophase in mitosis
  • Metaphase I: Same as metaphase in mitosis
  • Anaphase I: The meiotic spindle then pulls the pair of chromosomes apart by pulling one chromosome to one pole of the cell and the other chromosome to the opposite pole. The sister chromatids remain together throughout meiosis I. This is distinct from what occurs during mitosis and meiosis II.
  • Telophase I followed by cytokinesis: The chromosomes have completed their journey to the cell’s opposing poles. A complete pair of chromosomes congregate at each pole of the cell. A membrane develops surrounding each set of chromosomes, resulting in the formation of two new nuclei.

The single-cell then clamps in the center to generate two different daughter cells, each with a complete set of chromosomes contained within a nucleus. This is referred to as cytokinesis.

Meiosis II
  • Prophase II: There are now two daughter cells with 23 chromosomes (23 pairs of chromatids). The chromosomes condense again in each of the two daughter cells, forming visible X-shaped structures that may be viewed under a microscope. The membrane around the nucleus in each daughter cell breaks, allowing the chromosomes to be released. The centrioles are identical. The meiotic spindle develops once more.
  • Metaphase II: The chromosomes (a pair of sister chromatids) line up end-to-end along the cell’s equator in each of the two daughter cells. In each of the offspring cells, the centrioles are now at opposing poles. Meiotic spindle fibers connect to each of the sister chromatids at each cell pole.
  • Anaphase II: The activity of the meiotic spindle then pulls the sister chromatids to opposing poles. Individual chromosomes have emerged from the divided chromatids.
  • Telophase II and cytokinesis: The chromosomes have completed their journey to the cell’s opposing poles. A complete pair of chromosomes congregate at each pole of the cell. A membrane develops surrounding each set of chromosomes, resulting in the formation of two new cell nuclei. This is the final stage of meiosis; however, cell division is not complete until another round of cytokinesis occurs. When cytokinesis is complete, four granddaughter cells are formed, each with half a pair of chromosomes (haploid): in men, these four cells are all sperm cells. One of the cells in females is an egg cell, whereas the other three are polar bodies (small cells that do not develop into eggs).

mitosis and meiosis
Cell Cycle 

Prevost and Dumas (1824) discovered the cell cycle while researching the cleavage of a frog zygote. A cell goes through various steps to divide and make new cells. The cell cycle refers to the complete process through which a new cell population grows and develops with the support of a single parent cell.

The stages of the cell cycle of eukaryotic cells, or cells with a nucleus, are separated into two major phases: interphase and the mitotic (M) phase.

During interphase, the cell develops and duplicates its DNA.

During the mitotic (M) phase, the cell splits its cytoplasm and divides its DNA into two sets, resulting in the formation of two new cells.

Interphase 

Interphase, also known as the cell cycle’s resting phase, is when the cell prepares for division by undertaking both cell growth and DNA replication. It accounts for approximately 95% of the total cycle time. There are three phases in the interphase:

G1 phase (Gap 1) – The G1 phase of the cell occurs between mitosis and the start of replication of the cell’s genetic material. The cell is metabolically active during this phase and continues to grow without reproducing its DNA.

S phase (Synthesis) – During this phase, DNA replication occurs. If the original amount of DNA in the cell is represented as 2N, it becomes 4N following replication. However, the number of chromosomes does not change; for example, if the number of chromosomes was 2n during G1, it will remain 2n after the S phase. In cells that contain centrioles, the centriole splits into two centriole pairs.

G2 (Gap 2) phase – As the cell prepares to enter the mitotic phase, it produces the RNA, proteins, and other macromolecules needed for cell organelle multiplication, spindle formation, and cell expansion.

M phase

This is the mitotic phase, also known as the equational division phase, in which the cell undergoes a complete remodeling to give birth to a progeny with the same number of chromosomes as the parent cell. The process of cytokinesis, preceded by mitotic nuclear division, divides the other organelles equally. The mitotic phase is split into four phases that overlap:  Prophase, Metaphase, anaphase, and Telophase. 

Cytokinesis

The cell’s cytoplasm divides during this phase. It begins as soon as mitosis is completed. Plant cells are significantly more challenging than animal cells because of their hard cell wall and tremendous internal pressure. As a result, cytokinesis happens differently in plant and animal cells.

G0 phase

Other cell types divide slowly or not at all. These cells may depart the G1 phase and enter the G0 phase, a resting state. A cell in the G0 phase is not actively preparing to divide; it is just carrying out its function.

cell cycle (cells and organisms)

Cell Communication

Cell communication refers to a cell’s capacity to receive, analyze, and communicate signals with its surroundings and with itself. It is a basic feature of all cells in all living organisms, including bacteria, plants, and mammals.

Chemical signals are commonly used by cells to communicate. Chemical signals, which are proteins or other compounds generated by the sender cell, are frequently secreted and discharged into the extracellular space. They can then float over to neighboring cells, like messages in a bottle.

A specific chemical communication cannot be “heard” by all cells. A neighbor cell must have the appropriate receptor for a signal to detect it (that is, to be a target cell). When a signaling molecule attaches to its receptor, it changes the shape or activity of the receptor, causing an internal cell change. Signaling molecules are frequently referred to as ligands, which is a broad word for molecules that specifically bind to other molecules (such as receptors).

Chemical signaling in multicellular organisms is classified into four types: paracrine signaling, autocrine signaling, endocrine signaling, and direct contact signaling. The distance that the signal travels through the organism to reach the target cell is the primary distinction between the various types of signaling.

Paracrine Signaling – Cells nearby frequently interact by releasing chemical messengers (ligands that can diffuse through the space between the cells). Paracrine signaling is a kind of communication in which cells communicate across minimal distances.

Synaptic Signaling – Synaptic transmission, in which nerve cells send signals, is an example of paracrine signaling. The synapse, the interface between two nerve cells where signal transmission happens, is named after this mechanism.

Autocrine Signaling – Autocrine signaling occurs when a cell communicates with itself by releasing a ligand that binds to receptors on its surface (or, depending on the type of signal, to receptors inside the cell). This may be unusual for a cell to perform, yet autocrine signaling is vital in many processes.

Endocrine Signaling – When cells need to send messages across great distances, they frequently employ the circulatory system as a distribution network. Long-distance endocrine signaling involves the production of signals by specialized cells and their release into the circulation, where they are carried to target cells in different areas of the body. 

Nutrition

The biochemical and physiological process by which an organism utilizes food to sustain its existence is nutrition. Ingestion, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism, and elimination are all part of the process.

Nutritional science is studying the physiological process of nourishment (also nutrition science). 

Nutrition is the process of collecting food and utilizing it to develop, remain healthy, and repair any damaged bodily parts. Plants create food using basic resources found in their environment, such as minerals, carbon dioxide, water, and sunshine. Nutrition is classified into two types:

Autotrophic 

Autotrophic feeding is exhibited by plants, which are referred to as primary producers. Plants use light, carbon dioxide, and water to synthesize food.

  • Photosynthesis – Photosynthesis is the process through which food is produced in the presence of sunshine. Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants that aid in collecting solar energy to prepare food.

Heterotrophic

Both animals and humans are heterotrophs since they rely on plants for nourishment. Every creature is unable to prepare nourishment on its own. Such species rely on others for nourishment. Heterotrophs are creatures that cannot manufacture food independently and must rely on other sources/organisms.

All animals, including humans, are heterotrophs, as are fungi. Heterotrophs come in a wide range of forms, depending on their habitat and adaptations. 

Some eat plants (herbivores), some eat animals (carnivores), and just a few consume both (omnivores). As a result, we may argue that the survival of heterotrophs is directly or indirectly dependent on plants.

Heterotrophs are categorized into several groups based on how they feed. They are as follows:

  • Parasites (e.g., leeches, ticks)
  • Saprophytes are plants that grow on their own (e.g., mushrooms)
  • Holozoic (e.g., humans, dogs)

Reproduction 

Reproduction is the biological process of producing new individual organisms known as “offspring” from their “parents.” Every creature, such as the human body or the plants we see around us, is the consequence of reproduction. 

There are two types of reproduction in animals and plants: sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction. 

Asexual Reproduction 

It is the form of reproduction in which just one organism participates. Clones are offspring that are genetically identical to their mothers and almost usually have the same number of chromosomes. They are identical replicas of their mother cell. 

Organisms choose to reproduce asexually through various mechanisms. Binary fission, fragmentation, spore development, budding, and vegetative replication are some of the asexual mechanisms.

Sexual Reproduction

It is the process through which gamete cells from two organisms, one male and one female, unite to form one zygote. Zygote shares half of its genetic information with the father and half with the mother. 

There are several mechanisms of sexual reproduction in both plants and animals. Animals and humans reproduce sexually through fertilization, which is the fusion of sperm and ovum to produce a zygote.

In plants, the fusing of male gametes, especially pollen, with the feminine gamete, also known as ovules, is the reproduction technique. This produces a zygote and an endosperm nucleus, which develop into seeds and fruits. Pollination is the most prevalent mechanism for plants to reproduce sexually.

Animal reproduction is the most prevalent of the numerous types of reproduction. Most animals reproduce sexually, but differently. It entails joining a haploid sperm and a haploid egg to produce a diploid zygote that shares its DNA with both parent cells. Certain invertebrates reproduce via self-fertilization, in which they fertilize their egg with their sperm. Sexual reproduction in animals can occur by internal fertilization or external fertilization.

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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