Animal cells

Animals depend upon plants as an energy source. Chemicals in food are broken down in respiration to create energy stores that can be used by the cell.

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 sometimes 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

Cell structureFunction
CytoplasmWhere enzymes and other proteins are made. Location of reactions in anaerobic respiration.
NucleusContains DNA which carries the genetic code for making enzymes and other proteins used in chemical reactions such as photosynthesis and respiration.
Cell membraneAllows gases and water to diffuse freely into and out of the cell. Controls the transport of other molecules.
Mitochondrion (plural is mitochondria)Contains enzymes for the reactions in aerobic respiration (in animals, plants and yeast).
RibosomeWhere amino acids are joined together to make a protein.

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