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There are many parts of a cell, they all have specific duties, and are all needed to continue the life of the cell. Some cells exist as single-celled organisms that perform all of the organism’s metabolism within a single cell. Such single-celled organisms are called unicellular. Other organisms are made up of many cells, with their cells specialized to perform distinct metabolic functions. One cell within an organism may be adapted for movement, while another cell carries out digestion.
The individual cells no longer carry out all life functions, but rather depend on each other. Many-celled organisms are called multicellular. When a group of cells function together to perform an activity, they form a tissue.
The cells of a human are organized into tissues such as muscle and nerve tissues. Plant tissues include those of the stem and root. Many cells in tissues are linked to each other at contact sites called cell junctions.
Cell junctions help maintain differences in the internal environment between adjacent cells, help anchor cells together, and allow cells to communicate with one another by passing small molecules from one cell to another. Groups of two or more tissues that function together make up organs. An organ system is a group of organs that work together to carry out major life functions.
The cell membrane is capable of allowing materials to enter and exit the cell. Oxygen and nutrients enter, and waste products such as excess water leave. The plasma membrane helps maintain a chemical balance within the cell.
The cytoskeleton is a network of thin, fibrous elements that act as a sort of scaffold to provide support for organelles. It also helps maintain cell shape in a manner similar to the way poles maintain the shape of a tent. The cytoskeleton is usually composed of microtubules and microfilaments. Microtubules are thin, hollow cylinders made of protein. Microfilaments are thin, solid protein fibers. Microtubules and microfilaments make up most of the sytoskeleton.
Sperm cells of animals and some plants move by means of flagella. Organisms that contain many cells, including humans, have cilia that move fluids over a cell’s surface, rather than moving the cell itself.
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