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Specialised cells

Cells may be specialised for a particular function. Their structure will allow them to carry this function out. Here are some examples:

Examples of the functions of cells

cross section through a leaf cell

Leaf cell

Absorbs light energy for photosynthesisPacked with chloroplasts. Regular shaped, closely packed cells form a continuous layer for efficient absorption of sunlight.
root hair cell - has a head and tail

Root hair cell

Absorbs water and mineral ions from the soilLong 'finger-like' process with very thin wall, which gives a large surface area.
sperm cell - has a head and tail

Sperm cell

Fertilises an egg cell - female gameteThe head contains genetic information and an enzyme to help penetrate the egg cell membrane. The middle section is packed with mitochondria for energy. The tail moves the sperm to the egg.
red blood cells

Red blood cells

Contain haemoglobin to carry oxygen to the cells.Thin outer membrane to let oxygen diffuse through easily. Shape increases the surface area to allow more oxygen to be absorbed efficiently. No nucleus, so the whole cell is full of haemoglobin.

You are likely to be given information, perhaps in a diagram, to help you to explain the adaptations of a particular cell type to its function.

Back to Cells index

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