What do microscopic amoebae, pine trees, Portobello mushrooms, and giant whales have in common in terms of their cellular structure?
All of these organisms have eukaryotic cells, which mean they contain membrane-bound organelles that their prokaryotic rivals sadly lack. Organelles and everything else inside the cell swim in a gelatin-like fluid known as cytoplasm. The outside of the cell is protected by a plasma membrane.
These organelles are specialized to carry out various activities for the cell to continue living and functioning properly. One particularly important organelle – the nucleus – handles the cell’s DNA and enables it to divide into its daughter cells.
A eukaryotic cell produces many substances. For instance, the ribosomes attached to the rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) create proteins. The ER is also capable of synthesizing lipid molecules.
To ensure that there’s enough energy to power all of these activities, eukaryotic cells also have tiny power-generating plants called mitochondria.
Substances are transported to their intended location by organelles such as the Golgi apparatus. This body packages globules of matter in tiny sacs (vesicles) which can then be released out into the environment.
Yet other structures can be found – for example, the lysosome is packed with enzymes that digest any matter it comes across.
Please feel free to use our eukaryotic cell diagram labelling game as a resource to learn more about the eukaryotic cellular structure and test your knowledge.