Animal cells

Almost all animals and plants are made up of cells.

Animal cells have a basic structure. Below the basic structure is shown in the same animal cell, on the left viewed with the light microscope, and on the right with the transmission electron microscope.

Diagram illustrating an animal cell and its components

Mitochondria are visible with the light microscope but can’t be seen in detail.Ribosomes are only visible with the electron microscope.

Cell structures and their functions

CytoplasmA jelly-like material that contains dissolved nutrients and salts and structures called organelles. It is where many of the chemical reactions happen.
NucleusContains genetic material, including DNA, which controls the cell’s activities.
Cell membrane Its structure is permeable to some substances but not to others. It therefore controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell.
MitochondriaOrganelles that contain the enzymes for respiration, and where most energy is released in respiration.
RibosomesTiny structures where protein synthesis occurs.

Most cells are specialised and are adapted for their function. Animals and plants therefore consist of many different types of cell working together.