Biochemistry

Cell Organelles

The three main components of any plant or animal cell are:

  1. Plasma membrane/ cell membrane

Structure– bilipid membranous layer composed of proteins and carbohydrates.  It is fluid like.

Function – cell membrane separates the cell from its external environment, and is selectively permeable (controls what gets in and out).  It protects the cell and provides stability.

Proteins are found embedded within the plasma membrane, with some extending all the way through in order to transport materials.

Carbohydrates are attached to proteins and lipids on the outer lipid layer.

  1. Cytoplasm

Structure – The jelly-like substance composed of mainly water and found between the cell membrane and nucleus.  The cytoplasm makes up most of the “body” of a cell and is constantly streaming.

Function – Organelles are found here and substances like salts may be dissolved in the cytoplasm.

  1. Nucleus

Structure – The largest organelle in the cell. It is dark and round, and is surrounded by a double membrane called the nuclear envelope/membrane.  In spots the nuclear envelope fuses to form pores which are selectively permeable.  The nucleus contains genetic information (DNA) on special strands called chromosomes.

Function – The nucleus is the “control center” of the cell, for cell metabolism and reproduction.

The following organelles are found in both plant and animal cells.

  1. Endoplasmic Reticulum

The Endoplasmic Reticulum is a network of membranous canals filled with fluid.  They carry materials throughout the cell.  The ER is the “transport system” of the cell.

There are two types of ER: rough ER and smooth ER.

Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum is lined with ribosomes and is rough in appearance and smooth endoplasmic reticulum contains no ribosomes and is smooth in appearance.

  1. Ribosomes

Ribosomes are small particles which are found individually in the cytoplasm and also line the membranes of the rough endoplasmic reticulum.  Ribosomes produce protein.  They could be thought of as “factories” in the cell.

  1. Golgi Body / Apparatus

Golgi bodies are stacks of flattened membranous stacks (they look like pancakes!).  The Golgi body temporarily stores protein which can then leave the cell via vesicles pinching off from the Golgi.

  1. Lysosomes

Lysosomes are small sac-like structures surrounded by a single membrane and containing strong digestive enzymes which when released can break down worn out organelles or food.  The lysosome is also known as a suicide sac.

  1. Mitochondria

The mitochondria are round “tube-like” organelles that are surrounded by a double membrane, with the inner membrane being highly folded.  Mitochondria are often referred to as the “powerhouse” of the cell.  It releases food energy from food molecules to be used by the cell.  This process is called respiration.  Some cells (muscle cells) require more energy than other cells and so would have many more mitochondria.

  1. Vacuoles

Vacuoles are fluid filled organelles enclosed by a membrane.  They can store materials such as food, water, sugar, minerals and waste products.

 

Animal cells organelles not found in plant cells:

Cilia and Flagella

Both cilia and flagella are hair-like organelles which extend from the surface of many animal cells.  Structure is identical in both, except that flagella are longer and whip like and cilia are shorter.  There are usually only a few flagella on a cell, while cilia may cover the entire surface of a cell. The function of cilia and flagella include locomotion for one-celled organisms and to move substances over cell surfaces in multi-celled organisms.

 

Organelles and other features found only in plant cells:

  1. Cell wall

The cell wall is a rigid organelle composed of cellulose and lying just outside the cell membrane.  Cell wall gives the plant cell it’s box-like shape and also protects the cell.  The cell wall contains pores which allow materials to pass to and from the cell membrane.

  1. Plastids

Plastids are double membrane bound organelles.  It is in plastids that plants make and store food. Plastids are found in the cytoplasm and there are two main types:

Leucoplasts – colorless organelles which store starch or other plant nutrients.  (Example – starch stored in a potato)

Chromoplasts – contain different colored pigments. The most important type of chromoplast is the chloroplast, which contains the green pigment chlorophyll.  This is important in the process of photosynthesis.

 

  1. Central vacuole

The central vacuole is a large fluid-filled vacuole found in plants.

Download link:  Animal and Plant cell organelles