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The Structure of Cells

Author(s): Center for Educational Outreach

What Are Cells?

A  cell is the simplest collection of matter that can live. There are single-celled organisms, as well as more complex multicellular organisms. 

Cells contain DNA, the genetic material containing genes that code for proteins synthesized by the cell.

The cytoplasm suspends membrane-bound organelles, which have a specific function, and it contains chemicals that the cell utilizes every day, such as sugars and amino acids. The plasma membrane is a bilayer, made up of phospholipids, which separates the cell from its surroundings.

Vacuoles are membrane-bound organelles present in all plant and fungal cells, and in some protist, animal and bacterial cells. A vacuole’s structure and size varies, depending on the needs of the cells. Some functions include isolating harmful materials, containing waste products, maintaining internal hydrostatic pressure within the cell, maintaining an acidic internal pH, and exporting unwanted substances from a cell.