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Chapter No.


Cell Biology was formerly called Cytology (Gr., Kytos, Hollow vessel or cell; Logous, To discourse). It is a biological science which deals with the study of structure and function of cell. Cell biology tries to answer what life is, where it comes from and how it functions. Cell is the unit of structure and function of an organism. Cell is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing. Modern Cell biology studies the cell at both the microscopic and molecular level. DEFINITIONS OF CELL: 1. Cell is an autonomous self-replicating unit that may exist as functional independent unit of life (as in the case of unicellular organism), or as sub-unit in a multicellular organism (such as in plants and animals) that is specialized into carrying out particular functions towards the cause of the organism as a whole. (Biology Online) 2. Cell is a membrane bound structure containing biomolecules including large polymeric molecules such as proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, and nucleic acids as well as small molecules such as primary metabolites, secondary metabolites, and natural products

DEFINITIONS OF CELL BIOLOGY: 1. A biological science which deals with the study of cells from Morphological, Biochemical, 2. Physiological, Developmental, Genetical, Pathological and Evolutionary point of views. (Verma, P.S., Agarwal, V.K.) A branch of biology dealing with the study of cells, especially their function, structure, components, formation, life cycle, and their interaction with the internal or external environments. (Biology Online)


In 1658, Jan Swammerdam gave the first description of the cell in his account of the RBCs of the frog. In 1665, Robert Hooke (England) discovered cell as box like structures while studying a thin slice of cork. He remarked that it looked strangely similar to cellula or small rooms which monks inhabited from which the term Cell was derived later. M. Malpighi (16281694), and Hooke's colleague, N. Grew (16411712), made detailed studies of plant cells and established the presence of cellular structures throughout the plant body. The prevalent view of Hooke's contemporaries was that animals were composed of several types of fibers, the various properties of which accounted for the differences among tissues. The first man to witness a live cell under a microscope was A.V. Leeuwenhoek (Holland), who in 1674 described Spirogyra. In 1676 Leeuwenhoek published his observations of single-cell organisms and he called them Little animalcules. Leeuwenhoek studied variety of plant and animal material.

Fig. Robert Hookes

Microscope and the cork cells he observed. B. 19th Century:

In 1808, Mirabel reported that plants consist of membranous cellular tissues. In 1824 Prevost and Dumas described cell division in frogs egg. Dutrochet (1776-1847) proposed that the cell is also a physiological unit. F. Raspail is also among the founders of cell biochemistry because of his

experiments in early 19th century. In 1831, Robert Brown (Scotland) said nucleus as a central feature in plant cell. Dumortier (France) described binary fission in plants in 1832. In 1835, F. Dujardin described protoplasm in protozoa and considered it to be living matter. In the same year Von Mohl described the cell division. In 1838, Schleiden described the nucleoli and proposed cell theory along with Schwann. In 1839, Schwann applied cell theory to animals. Purkinje named the cell contents as protoplasm in 1840. A. Donne used photomicroscopy for first time in 1845. In 1846, K. Nageli reported that new plant cells arise from the pre-existing cells. In 1849, W. Hofmeister studied nuclear division, fertilization and drew figures of chromosomes in Tradescantia. In 1857, Kolliker discovered mitochondria in muscle. In 1865, Mendel discovered fundamental Genetics principles. Haeckel named plastids in 1866. In 1867, L. St. George discovered what was later called Golgi Complex. In 1870, W. His developed microtome. In 1871, F. Meischer discovered nucleoproteins and nucleic acid. H. Fol described the spindle and astral rays in 1873. In 1875, Strassburger described chromosomes. In 1882: Flemming introduced the term mitosis; Strassburger described mitosis in plants and introduced the terms cytoplasm and nucleoplasm; while Pfitzner discovered chromomeres. In 1883: Roux proposed that chromosomes contain hereditary material; Van Beneden found that gametes have half chromosomes than the body cells; Schimper named chloroplast while Meyer described chloroplast structure; whereas Metschnikoff observed and named Phagocytosis. In 1886, Macmunn discovered cytochromes. Van Beneden discovered centrioles in 1887 which were described by Boveri in 1888. In 1888, Waldeyer introduced the term chromosome. In 1892, Weismann proposed the germplasm theory. In 1898: C. Benda named the mitochondrion; while C. Golgi described the Golgi complex in nerve cells. CELL THEORY: It is also called Cell Doctrine. It is one of the basic pillars of biology. Credit for the formulation of this theory is given to two German colleagues Theodor Schwann & Matthias Schleiden, and Rudolph Virchow of Gemany. Main Points of Cell Theory:

(i) All living organisms are composed of one or more cells (Schleiden & Schwann, 1838-39). (ii) The cell is the basic unit of life (Schleiden & Schwann, 1838-39). (iii) Cells arise from pre-existing cells (Virchow, 1858). Modern Version of Cell Theory: 1. All organisms are made up of cells or cell products (with exception of viruses). 2. New cells are always produced from pre-existing cells. 3. The cell is a structural and functional unit of all living things. 4. Cell contains hereditary information which is passed on from cell to cell during cell division. 5. All cells are basically the same in chemical composition and metabolic activities. 6. Cells of organisms are differentiated into different cell types. Importance of Cell Theory: Cell theory provided, and still provides one of the great unifying theories in biology: one that states that in spite of all the vast diversity of organisms, they are united at a very fundamental level, i.e. they are fundamentally cellular in nature. The structure and functions of all organisms can be understood only unless the study is done at the level of cell and sub-cellular level. PROKARYOTIC Vs EUKARYOTIC CELLS: Prokaryotic (Pro = Primitive; Karyon = Nucleus) cells are usually independent. Some prokaryotes grow in filaments, or masses of cells, but each cell in the colony is identical and capable of independent existence. Prokaryotes are simpler, smaller, their ribosomes are smaller, they lack a membrane bounded nucleus, nucleolus, and most of the other organelles of eukaryotes. Nuclear material of prokaryotic cell consists of a single chromosome present in the undefined nuclear region called nucleoid region. Examples: Bacteria and Archaea.

Eukaryotic (Eu = True; Karyon = Nucleus) cells are often found in multicellular organisms. They are complex, larger, their ribosomes are larger, have membrane bounded nucleus, and also have other organelles like mitochondria, golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, chloroplasts, lysosomes, and peroxisomes etc. which prokaryotes do not have. Examples: Plants and animals. CELL SIZE AND SHAPE: The size and shape of cells shows extreme variation. Cells may be as small as Mycoplasma (0.10) to as large size as that of an Ostrichs egg (75 x 10 3). Lengthwise cell may be small as Mycoplasma (0.10) to the very long neurons of Blue Whales which may be as long as about 30 meters in length. The shape of cell also exhibit huge variation e.g. variable shape (Amoeba, Leucocytes), long and thin (Neurons), spherical (eggs of many animals), flattened (Epithelium, Endothelium), cuboidal (Thyroid gland follicles), columnar (cells lining intestine), discoidal (Erythrocytes), spindleshaped (Smooth muscle fibres), and branched (Pigment cells of skin) etc. This variation is due to various reasons such as the needs of organism or advantage the size, length, and shape may offer. CELL FUNCTIONS: Cell is the unit of structure and function of organism therefore all the functions performed by organisms are the result of cells and their activities. In unicellular organism a single cell in responsible for all life activities but in multicellular organisms there is a division of Labor where same cell may have more than one functions. Huge number of functions are discovered so far which are performed by the cells. Such as: In Animals 1. 2. 3. Muscle cells help organs and body in movement. Mammary gland cells secrete milk. Lacrimal gland cells secrete tear.

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Ceruminous gland cell secrete ear wax. Sebaceous gland cell secrete sebum.. Mucous cells secrete mucous. RBCs help in the transport of O2 and CO2. Germ cells help in reproduction. Rod cells in eye sense differences in light and react to low levels of light. Cone cells in eye react to different colors and work best in high levels of light. Chief cells in stomach secrete Pepsinogen. Parietal cells in stomach secrete Gastric acid. Afferent neurons convey information from tissues/organs to CNS. Efferent neurons transmit signals from the central nervous system to the effector cells. Interneurons connect neurons within specific region of CNS.

In Plants 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Guard cells in plants regulate the transpiration rate. Some epidermal cells in plants produce cuticle to prevent water loss. In plants cells containing photosynthetic pigment food in formed by photosynthesis. Phloem cells moves food from leaves to rest of the plant. Xylem cells transport water and nutrients from the root cells to the leaves. Root hair cells absorb water and minerals from soil. Gamete cells in plants are responsible for reproduction.