Cell Organelles: What They Are, Functions and Examples - Summary

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All living things are made up of one or more cells. These cells are described as morphological and physiological units, which means that they are composed of complex structures with specialized functions. As in the human body, inside the cells there are “organs” that allow the carrying out of their vital processes. These organs are the organelles or cellular organelles, which can vary in shape, size, composition and structure depending on the type of cell to which we refer.

In this Green Ecologist article we will talk a little about the Cell organelles, what are they, their functions and examples that exist.

What are cell organelles

Cellular organelles, organelles, or organelles are membranous structural units with specialized functions, which are found inside the cells and allow their correct functioning. All cells have organelles, but not all have the same types, in the same proportion or at the same time. There are organelles typical of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells and, in turn, there are organelles typical of animal, plant, fungal, protist, archaea and bacterial cells.

All cellular organelles of a cell are contained in its cytoplasm. They are surrounded by the plasma membrane or cell membrane, which allows to delimit and differentiate one cell and its organelles from another. Likewise, each cell organelle is delimited by its own membrane, which allows it to perform its functions properly.

If you want to expand your knowledge on the subject, do not hesitate to read this article that we recommend on the types of cells that exist.

Functions of cell organelles

Cellular organelles are the in charge of carrying out all cellular processes. Without organelles, cells could not carry out their life cycles or fulfill their functions within an organism (the latter in the case of cells that make up multicellular organisms). Depending on the kingdom, the species and the type of cell, it will have certain cellular organelles specifically adapted to meet its needs and allow it to fulfill its functions. An example of this are the organelles of the animal cell and the organelles of the plant cell.

All cells, without exception, breathe, feed, reproduce, synthesize compounds, communicate with other cells, interact with their environment and carry out other types of metabolic processes, catabolism or digestion. These "generic" processes are given by the same types of organelles cell phones in the vast majority of cases:

  • The cell nucleus or nucleoid: depending on whether we are talking about eukaryotic cells or prokaryotic cells, we will refer to the cell nucleus or nucleoid. Both contain the DNA that allows the cell to reproduce. Learn more about the Difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells in this post by Green Ecologist.
  • The plasma membrane: allows nutrition, excretion, interaction with the environment and cellular communication.
  • Ribosomes: synthesize the proteins necessary for the reproduction of cells.
  • The cytosol or cell cytoplasm: where all the vital substances and organelles for the cell are contained.

Cellular respiration

In the eukaryotic cellsFor example, the most common type of respiration is aerobic respiration. In the cytoplasm of these cells are mitochondria, which are organelles that synthesize ATP, supply energy and allow cellular respiration to be possible.

In the case of prokaryotic cells, there can be both aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration. In either case, the presence of ATP is required, a molecule that provides energy to the cell and allows respiration to be possible. In the cellular cytoplasm of prokaryotic cells there are all the substances and mechanisms for obtaining substances necessary to synthesize ATP.

Other processes

There are processes that are unique to some cell types, such as photosynthesis, fermentation, chemosynthesis, and nitrogen fixation. All the processes that are not common for all types of cells are given by specialized organelles of these cells, which are perfectly adapted to carry out these functions. Let's see some examples:

  • Chloroplasts: plant cells and autotrophic protist cells carry out oxygenic photosynthesis. To carry out this process, chloroplasts are necessary, some organelles typical of photosynthetic eukaryotic cells whose main function is, precisely, to allow photosynthesis. If you want to know more about Photosynthesis: what it is, process and importance, you can read this article that we recommend.
  • ChlorosomesGreen sulfur bacteria are anoxygenic photosynthetic prokaryotic cells. To carry out photosynthesis they need chlorosomes, which are organelles that contain certain photosynthetic pigments that are essential for the process.
  • Wöroning bodies: filamentous fungi form networks called hyphae. The fungal cells that make up hyphae usually have more than one nucleus, and have a type of cellular organelle unique to this type of fungus: the Wöroning bodies. Its function is to separate the septa between each cell that makes up the hypha when necessary.

Examples of cell organelles

Depending on its cell structure, the types of organelles it has, the kind of processes and metabolisms it carries out and the way in which it groups and / or interacts with other types of cells and with their environment, cells can be eukaryotic or prokaryotes, and in turn, animals, plants, fungi, protists, archaea or bacterial. You can find out the Parts of the plant cell or the Parts of the animal cell, you can do it by reading these Green Ecologist articles.

Eukaryotic cells are classified into animal cells, plant cells, fungal cells, and protist cells. Prokaryotic cells are classified into archaea cells and bacterial cells. Next, we will see some examples of organelles that make up these types of cells.

Organelles in eukaryotic cells

Eukaryotic cells make up eukaryotic organisms and are very more complex than prokaryotic cells. They are characterized by having a defined cell nucleus with envelope and nucleolus, in which the genetic material of the cell is contained. In addition, they have a great variety of organelles that are not present in prokaryotic cells, such as mitochondria, the Golgi apparatus, and endoplasmic reticulum.

There are characteristic organelles of the animal cell, such as centrosomes, centrioles, lysosomes, acrosomes, and melanosomes. There are also characteristic organelles of the plant cell, such as the cell wall, chloroplasts, leukoplasts and chromoplasts.

In general, in eukaryotic cells we can find the following representative cell organelles:

  • Cell nucleus (with cell envelope and nucleolus).
  • Plasma or cytoplasmic membrane.
  • Ribosomes.
  • Mitochondria.
  • Vacuoles.
  • Golgi apparatus.
  • Smooth endoplasmic reticulum.
  • Rough endoplasmic reticulum.
  • Peroxisomes.
  • Centrosomes (in animal cells, fungi and in single-celled eukaryotic organisms).
  • Centrioles (in animal cells, fungal cells and in unicellular eukaryotic organisms).
  • Lysosomes (only in animal cells).
  • Cell wall (in plant, fungal and protist cells).
  • Chloroplasts (in plant cells and photosynthetic eukaryotes).
  • Leukoplasts (in plant cells and photosynthetic eukaryotes).
  • Chromoplasts (only in plant cells).

Some of the representative structures of eukaryotic cells that are commonly mistaken for organelles are the cytoskeleton, cytoplasm, cilia, and flagella. If you want to know more about these cells, do not hesitate to read the Similarities and differences between animal and plant cells.

Organelles in prokaryotic cells

Prokaryotic cells make up prokaryotic organisms and they are much simpler than eukaryotic cells. They are characterized by having their genetic material dispersed in their cytoplasm, in an area called the nucleoid. They have some organelles that are not present in eukaryotic cells, such as chlorosomes and gas vesicles.

In general, in prokaryotic cells we can find the following representative cell organelles:

  • Plasma or cytoplasmic membrane.
  • Ribosomes.
  • Gas vesicles.
  • Cellular wall.
  • Storage granules.
  • Chlorosomes (in some photosynthetic bacteria).

Some of the representative structures of prokaryotic cells that are commonly confused with organelles are: the cytoskeleton, the cytoplasm, the capsule, the plasmids, the carboxysomes, the phycobilisomes, the magnetosomes, the pilis, the cilia and the flagella.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cell organelles: what are they, functions and examples, we recommend that you enter our Biology category.

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