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Science

Cells to systems

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Cells and their functions

Humans are multi-cellular animals. That means we are made of lots of cells, not just one cell. The cells in many multi-cellular animals and plants are specialised, so that they can share out the processes of life. They work together like a team to support the different processes in an organism.

Specialised cells

You should be able to work out special features of a cell from a drawing, if you are told what the cell can do. The tables below show examples of some specialised animal and plant cells, with their functions and special features.

Type of animal cell Function Special features

Red blood cells

Some red blood cells

To carry oxygen

  • Large surface area, for oxygen to pass through
  • Contains haemoglobin, which joins with oxygen

Nerve cells

Nerve cells

To carry nerve impulses to different parts of the body

  • Long
  • Connections at each end
  • Can carry electrical signals

Female reproductive cell (egg cell)

an egg cell

To join with male cell, and then to provide food for the new cell that's been formed

  • Large
  • Contains lots of cytoplasm

Male reproductive cell (sperm cell)

a sperm cell

To reach female cell, and join with it

  • Long tail for swimming
  • Head for getting into the female cell

Type of plant cell Function Special features

Root hair cell

Diagram of a root cell in a plant

To absorb water and minerals

  • Large surface area

Leaf cell

Diagram of a plant leaf cell

To absorb sunlight for photosynthesis

  • Large surface area
  • Lots of chloroplasts

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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