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Anatomy and Physiology of Animals: The Cell

Kang Yi*

Department of Veterinary Sciences, Siam University, Phasi Charoen, Bangkok

*Corresponding Author:
Kang Yi
Department of Veterinary Sciences, Siam University, Phasi Charoen, Bangkok
E-mail: yikang@edu.th

Received: 01-Apr-2022, Manuscript No. JVS-22-60516; Editor assigned: 04-Apr-2022, Pre QC No. JVS-22-60516 (PQ); Reviewed: 15-Apr-2022, QC No. JVS-22-60516; Revised: 22-Apr-2022, Manuscript No. JVS-22-60516 (R); Published: 29-Apr-2022, DOI: 10.4172/2581-3897.6.S4.004

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The cell is the basic building block of living organisms. Bacteria and the parasite that causes malaria consist of single cells, while plants and animals are made up of trillions of cells. Most cells are spherical or cube shaped but some are a range of different shapes. Most cells are so small that a microscope is needed to see them, although a few cells, e.g. the ostrich’s egg, are so large that they could make a meal for several people.
A normal cell is about 0.02 of a millimeter (0.02mm) in diameter. (Small distances like this are normally expressed in micrometers or microns (μm). Note there are 1000 μms in every mm). However, when you use an electron microscope to increase the magnification many thousands of times you see that these seemingly simple structures are incredibly complex, each with its own specialized function. For example the plasma membrane is seen to be a double layer and the cytoplasm contains many special structures called organelles (meaning little organs) which are described below. A drawing of the cell as seen with an electron microscope. The thin plasma membrane surrounds the cell, separating its contents from the surroundings and controlling what enters and leaves the cell. The plasma membrane is composed of two main molecules, phospholipids(fats) and proteins. The phospholipids are arranged in a double layer with the large protein molecules dotted about in the membrane. Some of the protein molecules form tiny channels in the membrane while others help transport substances from one side of the membrane to the other.

How substances move across the plasma membrane

Substances need to pass through the membrane to enter or leave the cell and they do so in a number of ways. Some of these processes require no energy i.e. they are passive, while others require energy i.e. they are active. Although you may not know it, you are already familiar with the process of diffusion. It is diffusion that causes a smell (expensive perfume or smelly socks) in one part of the room to gradually move through the room so it can be smelt on the other side. Diffusion occurs in the air and in liquids. In the body, diffusion causes molecules that are in a high concentration on one side of the cell membrane to move across the membrane until they are present in equal concentrations on both sides. It takes place because all molecules have an in-built vibration that causes them to move and collide until they are evenly distributed. It is an absolutely natural process that requires no added energy. Small molecules like oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and ammonia as well as fats, diffuse directly through the double fat layer of the membrane. The small molecules named above as well as a variety of charged particles (ions) also diffuse through the protein-lined channels. Larger molecules like glucose attach to a carrier molecule that aids their diffusion through the membrane. This is called facilitated diffusion.

Although the word may be unfamiliar, you are almost certainly acquainted with the effects of osmosis. It is osmosis that plumps out dried fruit when you soak it before making a fruit cake or makes that wizened old carrot look almost like new when you soak it in water. Osmosis is in fact the diffusion of water across a membrane that allows water across but not larger molecules. This kind of membrane is called a semi-permeable membrane. Water can cross the membrane but the salt cannot. The water crosses the semi-permeable membrane by diffusion until there is an equal amount of water on both sides of the membrane. The effect of this would be to make the salt solution more diluted and cause the level of the liquid in the right-hand side of the container to rise so it looked