Eukaryotic Cell Structures and Their Comparisons in Real World Unit

EUKARYOTIC CELLS

EukaryoticCell Structures and Their Comparisons in Real World

Unit

Section3.3

Eukaryotic cell structures are different from prokaryotic cells inmany ways. The most pronounced way is that the eukaryotic cells’structures are compartmentalized into various organelles with actualmembranes. Each of these organelles has a different function in thecell that is comparable to other things in the real world.

Cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton comprises of a network of proteinfibers suspended in a cell cytoplasm. They are long and thread-likeand well distributed in the cell. Their leading role is to maintainthe shape of the cell, hold some organelles suspended in thecytoplasm in place, allow movement of given structures within thecell, and facilitate independent movement in unicellular organisms(Openstax College 2013). Thus, based on its function, thecytoskeleton is comparable to a human or animal skeleton. Theskeleton, which comprises of all bone structures in the body,protects core organs such as the brain, heart, lung, and liver. Thehuman skeleton also allows people to move around, supports the body,hold other organelles in position, and maintain the overall bodyposture and shape. The skeleton also facilitates movement ofindividual organs of the body such as fingers, mouth, arms, and legs.Again, the cytoskeleton, same as the human skeleton, works as a partand parcel of a larger system.

Mitochondria- These are structures found in both animal and planteukaryotic cells. They are rod-shaped organelles covered by twomembranes (inner and outer). The inner membrane has folds to increasesurface area while the outer wall is smooth. The organelles aresomehow independent as they possess ribosomes and DNA. The organellesproduce energy for the cell through the aerobic process thatprimarily involves converting oxygen and nutrients into adenosinetriphosphate (ATP). This process allows higher organisms such ashumans to exist because the aerobic process is more efficient inproducing energy than the anaerobic process that does not requireoxygen and is used by most unicellular entities. The distribution andconcentration of mitochondria differ across various types cells.Muscular cells have a higher number of these organelles due togreater energy requirements (Openstax College 2013). Based on theirfunctions, it is possible to compare the mitochondria to jet enginesassuming an airplane represents a eukaryotic cell. The higher thepower needs of a plane, the more engines are installed, in the sameway as a cell. Given that some airplanes use electric and solarenergy that does not require oxygen, the engines that rely on oxygenand jet fuel (same as mitochondria that use oxygen and nutrients) aremore efficient and effective. Again, one can compare the mitochondriato the number or cylinders or pistons in a given engine. Thecylinders combust fuel and air to produce energy and the higher thepower needs of an engine, the more the cylinders.

Chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are organelles only found in plant cellsand some algae. Just like the mitochondria, the chloroplasts areenclosed by membranes and play a distinct function in the body. Whilethe mitochondria rely on oxygen and nutrients to form ATP as anenergy source, the chloroplasts are uniquely adapted to utilizesunlight to produce energy through a process called photosynthesis.The organelles have a green pigment called chlorophyll that capturessolar energy and converts into energy, ATP, and NADPH while freeingoxygen from water (Openstax College 2013). Thus, chloroplasts can becompared to solar panels. Chloroplasts are found mostly on plantcells on leaves where they get exposure to light in the same way assolar panels. While solar panels have light-sensitive diodes thatenable the conversion of light energy into electricity, chloroplastshave chlorophyll. While other processes in cells may use oxygen, thephotosynthesis process does not utilize oxygen.

As demonstrated above, organelles play unique roles in theirrespective cells. Their features and functions make it easy tocompare them to other things in the real world that play similarroles. Such comparison enhances understanding of cellular biology.

References

Openstax College.(2013). Concepts of biology. Retrieved online from

http://cnx.org/contents/[email protected]:[email protected]/Eukaryotic-Cells

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