Cell Biology

Discovery and Structure of Cells

by Heather MacNeill Falconer, M.A./M.S., Nathan H Lents, Ph.D.

  • Terms you should know
    • function : special purpose; designated action
    • membrane : a thin layer of tissue
    • structure : physical form; the arrangement of parts; the way something is built
  • Summary

    Cells are the basic structural and functional unit of life. This module traces the discovery of the cell in the 1600s and the development of modern cell theory. The module looks at similarities and differences between different types of cells and the relationship between cell structure and function. The Theory of Universal Common Descent is presented along with evidence that all living things on Earth descended from a common ancestor.

    Key Concepts

    • Cells are the basic structural and functional unit of all living things and contain inheritable genetic material.

    • The activity of a cell is carried out by the sub-cellular structures it possesses.

    • Cells possess an outer boundary layer, called a cell membrane, cytoplasm, which contains organelles, and genetic material.

    • There is considerable variety among living cells, including the function of membranes and subcellular structures, and the different types of functions the cells carry out, such as chemical transport, support, and other functions.

    Heather MacNeill Falconer, M.A./M.S., Nathan H Lents, Ph.D. “Discovery and Structure of Cells” Visionlearning Vol. BIO-1 (2), 2003.