This post was written for my biology students as revision for the unit on cellular structure and function. Definitions for keywords were adapted from Biology (Glencoe, 2008).
- Cell – the basic structural and functional unit of all living things
- Eukaryotic cell (or eukaryote) – a cell containing a nucleus and organelles, ~100 times the size of a prokaryotic cell
- Prokaryotic cell (prokaryote) – a cell without a nucleus or organelles e.g. unicellular organisms such as bacteria
- Nucleus – the cell’s “managing” organelle which contains most of the cell’s DNA
- Organelles – specialized structures in eukaryotic cells that carry out specific cell functions e.g. ribosomes, mitochondria, chloroplasts etc.
- Plasma membrane – the selectively permeable boundary of a cell that is comprised of a phospholipid bilayer (PLBL) and other components (cholesterol, protein, carbohydrates)
- DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid, codes information for protein synthesis in the cell, mostly found in the nucleus of a eukaryote or in the cytoplasm of a prokaryote, mostly found in the shape of a double helix
- Nuclear envelop – the selectively permeable double membrane boundary of the nucleus
- PLBL (phospholipid bilayer) – the part of the plasma membrane consisting of two layers of phospholipids arranged tail-to-tail
- Selective permeability – the property of allowing only particular substances to pass through (in and out) of a boundary
- Phospholipid – a molecule that is made up of a hydrophilic head which consists of a phosphate group and a tail which consists of chains of fatty acids.
- Hydrophillia – the physical property of a substance having the tendency to attract water
- Hydrophobia – the physical property of a substance having the tendency to repel water
- TEM – transmission electron microscope
- SEM – scanning electron microscope
- STM – scanning tunneling electron microscope
- AFM – atomic force microscope
- Transport protein – a component of the plasma membrane made up of proteins that allow certain substances to enter and leave the cell
- Microfilaments – components of a cell’s cytoskeleton made up of thin protein threads that help give the cell shape and enable the entire cell of parts of the cell to move
- Microtubules – components of a cell’s cytoskeleton made up of long, hollow protein cylinders that form a rigid skeleton for the cell and assists in moving substances within the cell
- Cell wall – an inflexible barrier that provides support and protection of a plant cell
- Centrioles – organelles comprised of microtubules that function during cell division
- Chloroplasts – organelles found in plant cells that capture light to undergo photosynthesis (conversion of light into chemical energy)
- Cilia (singular: cilium) – short, numerous hair-like projections found on the outside of the plasma membrane of some eukaryotic cells that aid in motion
- Cytoplasm – the semifluid material found inside cells
- Cytoskeleton – the network of microtubules and microfilaments that help anchor organelles inside cells.
- ER (Endoplasmic reticulum) – the highly folded membrane that is the site of protein synthesis.
- Smooth ER – the area of the ER where no ribosomes are attached
- Rough ER – the area of the ER where ribosomes are attached
- Flagella (singular: flagellum) – whip-like projections that are longer than cilia found on the outside of the plasma membrane of some eukaryotic cells that aid in motion
- Golgi apparatus – a flattened stack of membranes that modifies, sorts, and packages proteins into vesicles (also called sacs)
- Lysosomes – vesicles/sacs that contain substances that digest excess or worn-out organelles and food particles.
(lys “to break” (Greek) + some “body” (Greek))
- Mitochondria (singular: mitochondrion) – organelles that convert sugars into usable energy, often called the “powerhouses” of cells
- Nucleolus – the site of protein synthesis within the nucleus of a eukaryote
- Ribosomes – organelles made of RNA and protein which function in protein synthesis
- Vacuoles – sacs found in mostly plant cells (sometimes animal cells) used to store food, enzymes and materials needed by a cell, some vacuoles store waste products
- RNA – ribonucleic acid, unlike DNA, RNA mostly doesn’t code for protein synthesis and is also usually single stranded and shorter than DNA
- Cellulose – the carbohydrate that makes up the cell wall of plant cells
- Chlorophyll – the green chemical found in the chloroplasts of plants that aid in the capture of sunlight for the purpose of photosynthesis
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