Eukaryotic cell

What is a eukaryotic cell?

The eukaryotic cell is one that has a defined nucleus, covered by the cytoplasm and protected by a membrane that constitutes the cell envelope.

Organisms made up of eukaryotic cells are called eukaryotes and are part of the Eukaryotic kingdom. These are animals, plants, and fungi.

It is characterized by having within it the hereditary genetic material (DNA) of the organism and by having a complex structure composed of organelles that fulfill different essential functions in the cell.

Eukaryotic cells carry out vital functions for eukaryotic organisms such as, housing genetic material and carrying out a process of protein synthesis, which allows them to obtain energy to perform other tasks.

The word eukaryote derives from the Greek eukayron, composed of eu- (true), and karyon (kernel), and means 'true kernel'.

Characteristics of the eukaryotic cell

  • It is large: it measures between 10 and 30 µm. They are larger and more complex in structure than prokaryotic cells.
  • It has a defined nucleus: they are cells whose nucleus is defined and protected by a membrane.
  • It is composed of organelles: it has various organelles that shape and participate in the functioning of the cell.
  • It needs energy: its functioning depends on the energy it gets from the nutrients it absorbs.
  • They reproduce and divide: through mitosis and meiosis, eukaryotic cells can divide and contain genetic makeup.

Parts of the eukaryotic cell

Image of the internal structure of the eukaryotic cell.

In the eukaryotic cell the following parts are distinguished:

  • Cell membrane: or plasma membrane, is the double envelope that surrounds the cell and contains all its material. It is permeable and allows the entry of proteins and other nutrients necessary for the cytoplasm, as well as the exit of waste.
  • Cell nucleus: it contains the genetic material of the living being (DNA), and it is where the various functions of the cell are controlled and regulated. It is covered by a nuclear envelope.
  • Cytoplasm: they are found between the plasma membrane and the cell nucleus and are watery in consistency. It contains a network of cell membranes and organelles with particular functions:
    • Lysosomes: organelles that are responsible for cellular digestion, which helps in the functioning of cells.
    • Mitochondria: organelles that provide energy to the cell.
    • Ribosomes: organelles that carry out protein synthesis, which allows the messenger RNA to be translated, that is, genetic information.
    • Cytoskeleton: protein filaments that support the cell. It is involved in cell mobility and division.
    • Endoplasmic reticulum: they are in charge of synthesizing proteins and lipids, and of cellular transport. The smooth endoplasmic reticulum and the rough endoplasmic reticulum are differentiated.
    • Golgi apparatus: it is responsible for transforming and exporting synthesized proteins through the body.
  • Cell wall: it is typical of plants, algae and fungi, it is responsible for giving rigidity, shape and structural support to the eukaryotic plant cell.

See also Parts of the cell.

Eukaryotic cell types

Plant cell

It is a type of eukaryotic cell typical of plants and plant tissues. It is characterized by having a cell wall that makes it more resistant, chloroplasts and a central vacuole. In addition, it is capable of photosynthesis, a chemical process that allows plants to synthesize substances using light and release oxygen.

Animal cell

Unlike the plant cell, the animal cell lacks a cell wall and chloroplasts. They are cells that can take different shapes and sizes. They are characterized by having centrioles and abundant organelles.

Fungal cells

They are cells very similar to animal cells, but they show some differences. For example, the cell wall is composed of the carbohydrate chitin, they have a poorly defined shape and the most primitive fungi are those that have flagella.

See also:

  • Cell types.
  • Animal cell.
  • Plant cell.

Prokaryotic cell and eukaryotic cell

Prokaryotic cells have a simple internal structure. They do not have a defined nucleus, so the genetic material is found throughout the cytoplasm. It also does not present organelles and its reproduction is asexual. They are quite old cells.

For their part, eukaryotic cells are more recent than prokaryotic cells, and are characterized by having a cell nucleus where the genetic material is found, protected by a membrane.

The internal structure of eukaryotic cells is more complex and performs more specific functions. Its reproduction is sexual and can form multicellular organisms.

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