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Science

Cells to systems

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Animal cells and plant cells

Animal cells usually have an irregular shape, and plant cells usually have a regular shape

Cells are made up of different parts. It is easier to explain what these parts are by using diagrams like the ones below.

Animal and plant cells both have a cell membrane, cytoplasm, and a nucleus. Plant cells also have chloroplasts, a vacuole and a cell wall.

Animal cells and plant cells both contain:

  • cell membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus

Plant cells also contain these parts, not found in animal cells:

  • chloroplasts, vacuole, cell wall

The table summarises the functions of these parts.

Part Function Found in
Cell membrane Controls what substances can get into and out of the cell. Plant and animal cells
Cytoplasm Jelly-like substance, where chemical reactions happen. In plant cells there's a thin lining, whereas in animal cells most of the cell is cytoplasm. Plant and animal cells
Nucleus

Controls what happens inside the cell. Carries genetic information.

In exams don't call the nucleus the 'brain' of the cell. That is not a good description and will not get you marks.

Plant and animal cells
Chloroplast Where photosynthesis happens – chloroplasts contain a green substance called chlorophyll. Plant cells only
Vacuole Contains a liquid called cell sap, which keeps the cell firm. Plant cells only
Cell wall Made of a tough substance called cellulose, which supports the cell. Plant cells only

Activity

Cells to systems activity

Feeling trapped in a revision cell? Escape with this activity.

Play

Elemental

Can you conquer the elements?

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