FunWhat is the cytoplasm? Functions, structure and characteristics

What is the cytoplasm? Functions, structure and characteristics

The cytoplasm is defined as the gelatinous fluid found inside cells. It is made up of organic molecules, salts, and water. In eukaryotic cells, those that have a defined nucleus, the cytoplasm comprises everything that is within the cytoplasmic membrane and outside the nuclear envelope. Meanwhile, in prokaryotic cells, it is all that is found inside, and is wrapped in the plasma membrane.

It was the scientist Robert Hooke who discovered the cytoplasm in 1665. He was the first to observe it through a microscope, and according to what he said, he had the sensation of seeing a honeycomb .

It fulfills very important functions for the proper functioning of the body and, therefore, for survival. First, it gives cells shape, support, and movement. Second, it serves as a “warehouse” for cellular organs and molecules. And, third and last, it is responsible for nourishing the cells by transforming the nutrients received into energy . Therefore, it not only stores, but also promotes mobility.

What is the cytoplasm?

It is called as such the interior of cells, which occupies the area between the plasma membrane and the cell nucleus . It houses different organelles of the cell, and a large number of molecular reactions take place in the cytoplasm. The cytosol is composed of 70% water, and has neither a stable structure nor a stable form.

The cytoplasm is divided into two areas. On the one hand, the outermost region, which is very close to the plasma membrane, called ectoplasm. And, on the other hand, the innermost region, located around the nucleus and which concentrates most of the cellular organelles, the endoplasm .

It should be noted that it occurs in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells , although they have types of organelles.

Structure of the cytoplasm

The cytoplasm houses the cell’s organelles, which are the following:

  • Plasma membrane: it is a membrane that covers the cell and protects it from the entry of unwanted substances.
  • Cell wall: in the case of fungi and plant cells, the cell wall is rigid and lies outside the plasma membrane.
  • Lysosomes: their main function is the degradation of the molecular material that enters the cell.
  • Gigi’s apparatus: present in both plant and animal cells, it acts as a transport route for proteins and other substances through a system of vesicles.
  • Mitochondria: they are the energy centers of the cell, where ATP synthesis takes place thanks to the nutrients present in the environment. It is called cellular respiration.
  • Chloroplasts: Chloroplasts are organelles that contain the chlorophyll that plants need to absorb solar energy.
  • Endoplasmic reticulum: they are a series of interconnected sacs and tubules that can be rough or smooth.
  • Nucleus: in eukaryotic cells the nucleus is perfectly defined. It stores all the genetic material and is involved in cell reproduction. Prokaryotic cells, on the other hand, do not have a nucleus.
  • Centriolo: it is a cylindrical organelle whose ducts serve for transport between different organelles.
  • Chromatin: this is the name given to the set of DNA and other proteins present in the nucleus, that is, the genetic material at the cellular level.
  • Vacuole: and, finally, the vacuole, deposits of water, sugars, proteins or enzymes that are used to carry out different processes in the cell.

What are the parts of the cytoplasm?

It is divided into three parts:

  • Cytoplasmic matrix: also called cytosol, it is a solution with a gelatinous texture and appearance, and it is the part that the organelles do not understand. Its function is to store potassium, sugars, amino acids and calcium, essential substances for the life of cells.
  • Cytosol: the vast majority of metabolic reactions in cells, both eukaryotic and prokaryotic, take place in the cytosol.
  • Cytoskeleton: a network that shapes cells through a complex structure of filaments, microfilaments and microtubules made up of proteins is called the cytoskeleton. The structure is fundamental for the processes of mitosis and cyclosis.
  • Organelles: and, finally, organelles, small organs found in the matrix of the cytoplasm. There are nonmembranous and membranous organelles.

The cytoplasm is divided into two parts. The outermost region is called the ectoplasm and is the one near the plasma membrane. It has a gelatinous texture and is involved in the movement of cells. The endoplasm is the innermost region, located around the nucleus and where most of the cellular organelles are found.

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