Plant and Animal Cell Worksheets

A cell is the basic unit of life. There are two uniquely formed and often studied cell types. They both have a defined nucleus, cell membrane, and are protected by cytoplasm. Plant cell walls are designed for the process of photosynthesis. Plant cells chloroplasts, a large vacuole, and a thick cell wall. Animal cells lack a cell wall and chloroplasts.

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What Are Cells?

Have you ever seen how a wall is made? It is made of small bricks stacked and joined together. Bricks are building blocks of a wall. Similarly, humans and other living things have building blocks as well. These are called cells.

A cell makes up every part of living organisms and is the smallest unit that can live independently. Cells are the building blocks for every living thing, from the smallest single-celled organisms like yeast, bacteria, or algae to large multicellular organisms like humans, plants, and animals.

General Description

Cells are bound by cell membranes, and they contain important molecules that are essential for the life of a living being. Cells either exist as a single entity, or they may work together with other cells to make up a multicellular organism. When they live alone, they can provide energy, metabolize nutrients, and replicate themselves. In the case of a multicellular organism, cells take up specialized functions according to the requirement and coordinate with other cells to smoothly carry out their tasks. Cells group to make tissues, and tissues make up organs, and the organs are what keep an organism surviving and functioning correctly.

Functions of a Cell

Structural support: Cells make up a living organism, therefore it's natural to assume that it is responsible for their natural structure. For example, cells make up tissues that form your skeletal muscles, responsible for the human body's movement, balance, and posture.

Transport: This can be classified as passive transport (osmosis, simple and facilitated diffusion) or active transport (which involves a specialized pump).

Growth of organism: Cell division helps an organism grow. Cells divide through a process called mitosis.

Digestion: A cell can move food or any other microorganism within itself through endocytosis. This is a significant phenomenon in leukocytes, which take up harmful substances to kill or destroy them.

Parts of a Cell

There are lots of parts of a cell, but the most common ones are the cell membrane, nucleus, and cytoplasm. Organelles (little organs) are what perform particular functions and make up a cell.

Cell membrane: A cell membrane is a thin membrane that surrounds the whole cell. Charged and water-soluble particles are present both within and outside a cell membrane. Hence, it has 2 main functions. The first is to act as a boundary or barrier which prevents the outside particles from coming in and the inside particles from going out. The second is to act as a gate, allowing only selected particles to enter or go outside the cell. The basic structure of the cell membrane is a lipid bilayer. Lipid soluble molecules can pass the membrane, but it stops the transport of water-soluble molecules.

Nucleus: The nucleus is called the "brain" of a cell. It is located almost at the center of a cell. It plays an integral part in a cell's growth and reproduction. An envelope surrounds it, called a nuclear membrane. It contains DNA, a double-helix structure that contains information about the biological nature of an organism. Information of DNA in genes is decoded to form specific protein molecules. Even though DNA is the same throughout a body, there can be a little difference in DNA coding in different body cells, e.g., in the heart, muscles, or skin.

Cytoplasm: A gelatinous substance called cytoplasm is present between the cell and nuclear membrane. It contains the organelles, such as mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum. The cytoplasm is made up of a large quantity of water, some salts, and organic molecules. The primary function of cytoplasm is to provide a medium for all the chemical processes in a cell, e.g. growth, replication, etc. The cytoplasm also gives a cell its shape. If there were no cytoplasm, a cell would simply deflate like a balloon.

Cell wall: A cell wall is a nonliving and porous wall present outside a cell membrane in all plant cells. It is responsible for giving a rigid shape to a plant cell, protecting it from osmotic stress and physical damage. It has a basic structure of cellulose and polysaccharides. Besides plant cells, a cell wall may also be present in fungi, algae or molds.

Types of Cells

Cells are different for every living organism. There are two distinct types of cells - eukaryotic and prokaryotic. There are more than 200 different types of cells in the human body. They make up tissues that perform different functions.

Red blood cells: They are also called erythrocytes, and they carry oxygen throughout the body.

White blood cells: Also called leukocytes, they protect the body against infections and diseases.

Fat cells: Fat cells make up the adipose tissues. They contain triglycerides and provide energy to the body when needed.

Nerve cells: Nerve cells are also called neurons. They send and receive signals from your brain and are an important part of the nervous system.

Muscle cells: They make up three types of muscles - smooth, cardiac, and skeletal muscles.

Skin cells: They form a protective layer against UV rays or chemical or infectious particles. They are made up of a protein called keratin.

Difference Between Plant and Animal Cells

Both plants and animals are eukaryotic, but they have some differences in their structures.

Cell wall: It is present in a plant cell but absent in animal cells.

Shape: Plant cells have a rigid rectangular shape, whereas animal cells are round or irregular.

Nucleus: It's present in one corner of the cell in plants. In animal cells, it is present in the center.

Mode of nutrition: Plant cells are autotrophic (produce their food), and animal cells are heterotrophic (ingest their food).

In conclusion, a cell is the basic structural and functional unit of life. As Theodor Schwann said, "All living things are composed of cells and cell products". The presence of a cell determines whether a thing is alive or not. Proper knowledge and understanding of cells is important to know how organisms function. A cell is an essential thing from which life emerges, and it plays an important role in the living and growth of all organisms. From tiny bacteria to large human cells, cells are responsible for every function of their bodies.