Sometimes, understanding the history tied to certain subject matters you intend to write an essay about, gets you done with half of your task and cell biology belongs exactly to this category. Therefore we shall explore cell biology and its history, which you can employ when writing your research paper.
Like most disciplines, the field of cell biology was defined by Greek scholars in ancient Greece. It was established from the Greek word KUTOC, as a branch of biology that studies the different structures and functions of the cell with special emphasis on the cell being the basic unit of life. This article alongside two others will be focused on providing you with all the information you need to start writing an excellent research paper on cell biology.
10 Interesting Facts on Cell Biology for Your Research Paper:
- All cells are not equal. The fact that cells are the basic units of life does not automatically mean all cells are equal. Although scientific research shows that all cells share certain similarities such as the ability to eat, grow and move, they are also unique in diverse ways. Cells differ in size, function and living arrangement—some are self-sustaining while others are part of a complex multicellular organism.
- Cell membranes form the boundary between its internals and the external environment. Just like the human skin acts as the boundary between the human body and its external environment, cell membranes do the exact same thing. Cell membranes are based on a framework of fat-based molecules known as phospholipids. Their main function is gate-keeping. This involves preventing hydrophilic substances—elements that love water—from leaving or entering the cell.
- Cell genetic codes are expressed through nucleic acids. The two major types of nucleic acids charged with this responsibility are the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). These nucleic acids work hand by hand to build and manage the cell functions. The DNA is the molecule that contains the information a cell needs to function while the RNA serves as the conduit which transports this message to areas where they are expressed. It is also important to note that other proteins/amino acids are also charged with the responsibility of cell expressions.
- Cells contain structures designed to carry out specific tasks. These structures are called organelles, and they are responsible for the separate functions a cell needs to perform to stay alive. While eukaryotic cells contain a diverse range of organelles, prokaryotic have just a few. The organelles in prokaryotic cells include: nucleus for growth and reproduction, mitochondria for energy, golgi complex as a manufacturing and storing organelle and endoplasmic reticulum synthesizes carbohydrates, and fat. Eukaryotic cells basically make use of ribosomes to synthesize proteins and lysosomes to digest macromolecules.
- Cells are differentiated and categorized by their genetic materials. As stated earlier, there are different types of cells. Scientists make use of a categorization system that focuses on the packaging of their genetic materials. Cells that have their DNA separated or partitioned from their cytoplasm are categorized as eukaryotes while others with DNAs not partitioned off their cytoplasm are known as prokaryotic. Also, all known prokaryotes e.g. bacteria are generally single cells while eukaryotes such as Amoeba are usually single-entities living freely in their own environment.
- Cells generate energy from sunlight and food molecules. Like all living organisms, cells need energy to survive and they get that energy from the environment they live in. Biological research has shown that the major source from which cells get energy is the sun. Almost all living cells—bacteria, algae, plant cells etc.—harness solar energy to meet their everyday needs, grow and reproduce. Cells also take in food molecules such as sugar and fats through the membrane to generate the energy needed to function.
- Cells use specific pathways to turn nutrients into usable energy. The specific pathway used by cells to develop usable energy largely depends on the type of the cell. Studies have shown that eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells apply different pathways. Eukaryotic cells make use of some major processes which include: glycolysis—the splitting of sugar—and oxidative phosphorylation, which involves an electron transport chain. Prokaryotic cells, on the other hand, make use of oxidation which involves the transfer of electrons from one molecule to another through chemical reactions.
- Cells also store energy in reserves. When there is an abundant supply of energy, eukaryotic cells tend to store energy for future use. To get this done, these cells automatically create energy-rich molecules to store the excessive energy. These reservoirs are of course held in the cell and can be called upon when needed. In situations of plenty, these reservoirs can get large enough to be viewed separately under a microscope.
- Cells have varying life spans. Another factor which differentiates cells from one another is their life spans. These life spans can fluctuate between a few days to a couple of years. Using cells in the human body as case study: cells in the digestive tract may live for just a few days, those situated in the immune system may live for months, while cells in pancreas can live for a year or even more. Simple cells such as amoeba and algae that live in their own habitat without a host also exhibit fluctuating life spans.
- Cells also commit suicide. Cells go through the process known as apoptosis when they are either damaged or infected. This process involves a sequence of steps which starts with the cell sending self-termination signals to its nucleus. The process of apoptosis is done to protect the body as well as keep the natural process of cell division occurring without difficulties. Lastly, cells that do not go through the natural process of apoptosis when damaged can be cancerous.
Here we come to the end of today’s interesting facts about the field of cell biology. To learn more about writing a research project on it, why not read the other articles in this series covering 20 cell biology research project topics and how to write a good research project on cell biology.
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Cameron, L. (2013). International Institute for Collaborative Cell Biology and Biochemistry–History and Memoirs from an International Network for Biological Sciences. Cell Biology Education, 12(3), pp.339-344.
Chamany, K., Allen, D. and Tanner, K. (2008). Making Biology Learning Relevant to Students: Integrating People, History, and Context into College Biology Teaching.
Edelmann, L. (2002). Life at the Cell and Below-Cell Level: The Hidden History of a Fundamental Revolution in Biology (review). Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 45(4), pp.628-631.
Bechtel, W. and Abrahamsen, A. (2006). In Search of Mitochondrial Mechanisms: Interfield Excursions between Cell Biology and Biochemistry. Journal of the History of Biology.
Steinberg, G. (2015). Cell biology of Zymoseptoria tritici: Pathogen Cell Organization and Wheat Infection. Fungal Genetics and Biology, 79, pp.17-23.
Kerimoglu, O., Straile, D. and Peeters, F. (2012). Role of Phytoplankton Cell size on the Competition for Nutrients and Light in incompletely Mixed Systems. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 300, pp.330-343.