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The voice of the genome:

Looking at Cells:
Some cells can be seen with your eye, such as the ovum in a birds egg (the yolk). However, to see most cells properly, you need a microscope, such as a light microscope, which was available to the public since the mid-seventeenth century. A good optical microscope can zoom up to 1,500 times, which lets us see cells up close. They are still in use today despite the development of the electron microscope which can zoom up to 50,000 times. The advantages of an optical microscope: Living plants/animals or parts of them can be directly observed, and allows you to easily compare different slides. They are cheap, and small, and so are easy to carry around.

The disadvantages of an optical microscope: Preservation and staining the sample can cause damage to it, (referred to as an artefact). This means what we observe might be from the preparation of the sample, and not what is real. They have limited magnification and resolution.

Advantages of an electron microscope: Massive resolution/magnification

Disadvantages of an electron microscope: Sample has to be in a vacuum, so it has to be dead. Specimens undergo severe treatment that will most likely cause artefacts. They are extremely expensive and hard to maintain. They have to be kept at constant temperature and pressure.

Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic cells:

Most more complex living organisms, and some simple ones are made of eukaryotic cells. However, there is a more ancient group of cells, called the prokaryotes. They are much simpler and much smaller than their more complex relatives, and are lacking in certain organelles which eukaryotes have. Eukaryotes lack a membrane bound nucleus, their DNA is randomly coiled up forming a nucleoid, and sometimes they have other small blobs of DNA called plasmids. The cytoplasm contains enzymes, ribosome's and food-storage granules, but doesn't have other more advanced organelles such as chloroplasts, mitochondria or endoplasmic reticuli. Respiration takes place in a special part of the cell membrane called the mesosome. If they photosynthesize, they will have the chlorophyll pigment within them, but not a whole chloroplast.

AS Bio - Unit 2

The voice of the genome:

Characteristics of Eukaryotic cells:
The animal cell: An animal cell is surrounded by a membrane. Within this membrane is a jelly-like liquid called the cytoplasm, which contains the nucleus. This is called the protoplasm altogether. The cytoplasm contains everything needed in the day to day survival of the cell while the nucleus keeps the cell alive in the long term.

These are an important outer boundary to the cell, and are also present within the cell separating various important organelles. They control the movement of substances and also have other purposes which will be discussed later.

The cytoplasm with the nucleus in it. Early scientists thought that this was essentially the whole cell, however, more recent discoveries have shown that the cytoplasm has various organelles within it. The organization of this part of the cell is called the ultrastructure.

The nucleus:
It is the largest organelle within the cell, and can be seen with a light microscope. It has a double membrane which has holes, called pores, allowing chemicals to pass in and out, so that the nucleus can control what happens in the cytoplasm and other organelles. Within this membrane there are two main substances. Nucleic acid and proteins. The nucleic acids are DNA and RNA. When the cell is not dividing, DNA is bonded to the protein to form chromatin, which resembles tiny granules. In the nucleus there is at least one nucleolus - an extra dense area of pure DNA and protein. The nucleolus is involved in the production of ribosome's, and recent studies suggest that it controls cell growth and division.

The name mitochondrion means 'thread granule', describing the shame of this organelle. They are located in the cytoplasm and are too small to be seen properly with a light microscope. They are the power plants of the cell. They go through a series of biochemical reactions to produce energy in the form of ATP. The number of these can give you a clue as to what the cell does. Fat cells, which do little to no work, have very few mitochondria, whereas muscle cells contain a lot of mitochondria. Mitochondria have a double membrane, and contain their own genetic material. They replicate themselves under the control of the nucleus. Their inner membrane is folded to form cristae which are surrounded by a fluid matrix. Research has led many to believe that they originated as eubacteria, forming a symbiotic relationship with early cells, and thanks to evolution, have now become part of our cells.

AS Bio - Unit 2

The voice of the genome:

The centrioles:
In every cell there are a pair of centrioles near the nucleus. Centrioles are formed from 9 small tubules, and are involved in cell division, by providing a spindle of microtubules which control the movement of the chromosomes.

The cytoskeleton:
As strange as it may seem, a cellular skeleton is actually a major feature within all eukaryotic cells. It is a dynamic, 3D web-like structure that fills the cytoplasm. It's made of microfilaments, which are protein fibers and microtubules. Microtubules are found both on their own and in bundles throughout the cytoplasm. They are made of the globular protein tubulin. Many proteins in the microfilaments are related to muscle fibers, and are linked to cell movement and transport within cells.

These are not a permanent feature in animal cells. They are membrane lined enclosures that are formed and lost when needed. Simple animals make vacuoles around their food, and white blood cells in more advanced animals form vacuoles around engulfed pathogens. Contractile vacuoles are an important feature in simple animals that live in fresh water because they allow the water content of the cytoplasm to be controlled. Despite all these uses, they are still rarely ever present, and are never permanent.

Endoplasmic Reticulum:
The endoplasmic reticulum, (ER), spreads through the whole cytoplasm like a 3D network of cavities, some resembling sacks, others tubes, and all bound by membranes. The ER network links with the membrane around the nucleus and is an important part of the synthesis of vital chemicals.

Rough and Smooth endoplasmic reticuli:

The Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum is covered in tiny granules, which are now known to be ribosome's, which means that the rER is vital to isolating and transporting proteins, which the ribosome's make. Proteins like hormones and digestive enzymes are not needed in the cell and are secreted out, without interfering with the cells activities. This is called exocytosis. The smooth endoplasmic reticulum, (sER), is involved in synthesis and transport but in the case of fatty molecules such as steroids and lipids. e.g. lots of sER is found in the testes which makes the steroid hormone testosterone, and in the liver which metabolizes cholesterol amongst other lipids. The amount and type of ER give you an idea of what job the cell does. Also, sER is more tubular than rER.

Golgi body:
The Golgi body resembles a dense area of the cytoplasm under a normal light microscope. However, under an electron microscope, it looks like stacks of parallel, flattened membrane pockets called AS Bio - Unit 2

The voice of the genome:

cisternae, formed by vesicles from the endoplasmic reticulum fusing together. It has a close link to, but is not joined up with the rER. Proteins are brought into the Golgi body in vesicles which have been pinched off from the rER where they were made. The vesicles fuse with the membrane sacs of the Golgi body and the proteins enter the Golgi stacks. As the protein travels through the Golgi body, it is modified. Carbohydrates are added to it, to from glycoprotein's such as mucus. The Golgi body seems to be involved in the formation of plant cell walls, as well as insect cuticles. The Golgi body also contains some digestive enzymes which are usually enclosed in a vesicle to form an organelle, called the lysosome. Enzymes can also be transported through the Golgi body in vesicles which will fuse with the cell surface membrane, and release the enzymes to the surroundings.

Food taken into the cell must be broken down, and that's where lysosomes come in. They appear as dark, spherical bodies in the cytoplasm of most cells and they contain lots of powerful digestive enzymes. They frequently fuse with each other and with vacuoles containing either food or obsolete organelles. A lysosome may also fuse with the cell surface membrane to release the enzymes to aid digestion, or to kill bacteria. Lysosomes can also self destruct. If an entire cell is damaged or wearing out, its lysosomes can rupture causing it to destroy the contents of the cell. This is called apoptosis. Problems can arise, (obviously), if this occurs when it should not.

The organization of Cells:

Multicellular organisms are made of many specialized cells, but these cells cannot operate on their own. They are organized into groups of cells known as tissue. These tissues consist of one or more cell types so that they can carry out a certain function. The tissues are then further organized into organs, which then form systems.

Tissues are groups of similar cells which that all develop from the same kind of cell. Despite there being many types of cell within the human body, there are four types of tissue. Epithelial tissue, connective tissue, muscle tissue, and nervous tissue. Modified versions of these tissue types with different cells carry out all body functions. Epithelial tissue is what lines the inside and outside of the body. Cells here usually sit closely together and form a smooth surface that protects cell and tissue below it. There are various types of epithelial tissue, such as squamous epithelium, which lines blood vessels. Cuboidal and columnar cells line many other tubes in our bodies. Ciliated epithelia usually contains goblet cells that make mucus, and form the surface of tubes within the lungs and oviducts where the cilia move materials along the tubes. Compound epithelia is found where the surface is continually scratched and abraded, like the skin. The thickness of the tissue protects what lies beneath as new cells continue to grow from the basement membrane.

AS Bio - Unit 2

The voice of the genome:

An organ is made up of a group of tissues that work together effectively. There are many organs in the human body, such as the brain, lungs, and heart. Plants also have cells grouped into tissues and organs. An example is the leaf, which is composed of vascular tissue, epithelial tissue and mesophyll tissues.

In animals, most organs work together as a system, to carry out complex functions. Our digestive system is composed of the stomach, pancreas, large and small intestine; the nervous system is composed of the brain, spinal cord and all peripheral nerves.

AS Bio - Unit 2