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October, 2006
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Plant Cells: Basic functional unit of plants.

Cell Structure- Concept

JoVE 10587


Cells represent the most basic biological units of all organisms, whether it be simple, single-celled organisms like bacteria, or large, multicellular organisms like elephants and giant redwood trees. In the mid 19th century, the Cell Theory was proposed to define a cell, which states:

Every living organism is made up of one or more cells.
The cells…

 Lab Bio

Diffusion and Osmosis- Concept

JoVE 10622

Cell Membranes and Diffusion

In order to function, cells are required to move materials in and out of their cytoplasm via their cell membranes. These membranes are semipermeable, meaning that certain molecules are allowed to pass through, but not others. This movement of molecules is mediated by the phospholipid bilayer and its embedded proteins, some of which act as transport channels…

 Lab Bio

Cell Structure - Student Protocol

JoVE 10588

Visualizing Onion and Human Cells
In this experiment you will prepare different types of cells from a plant and animal, onion and human respectively, and then visualize them under a microscope. HYPOTHESES: The experimental hypothesis is that the cells will appear different in overall shape and membrane structure, but there will be some shared similar…

 Lab Bio

Tonicity in Plants

JoVE 10703

Tonicity describes the capacity of a cell to lose or gain water. It depends on the quantity of solute that does not penetrate the membrane. Tonicity delimits the magnitude and direction of osmosis and results in three possible scenarios that alter the volume of a cell: hypertonicity, hypotonicity, and isotonicity. Due to differences in structure and physiology, tonicity of plant cells is different from that of animal cells in some scenarios. Unlike animal cells, plants thrive when there is more water in their surrounding extracellular environment compared to their cytoplasmic interior. In hypotonic environments, water enters the cell via osmosis and causes it to swell because there is a higher concentration of solutes inside plant cells than outside. The force, that is generated when an influx of water causes the plasma membrane to push against the cell wall, is called turgor pressure. In contrast to animal cells, plant cells have rigid cell walls that limit the osmosis-induced expansion of the plasma membrane. By limiting expansion, the cell wall prevents the cell from bursting and causes plants to stiffen (i.e., become turgid). Turgidity allows plants to hold themselves upright instead of wilting. Plants wilt if they cannot take up sufficient water. In such a scenario, their extracellular surrounding becomes hypertonic, causing water to leave the

 Core: Membranes and Cellular Transport

What are Cells?

JoVE 10687

Cells are the foundational level of organization of life. An organism may be unicellular, as with prokaryotes and most eukaryotic protists, or multicellular where the functions of an organism are divided into different collections of specialized cells. In multicellular eukaryotes, cells are the building blocks of complex structures and can have various forms and functions.

Cells are the building blocks of all living organisms, whether it is a single cell that forms the entire organism (e.g., a bacterium) or trillions of them (e.g., humans). No matter what organism a cell is a part of, they share specific characteristics. A living cell has a plasma membrane, a bilayer of lipids, which separates the watery solution inside the cell, also called cytoplasm, from the outside of the cell. Furthermore, a living cell can replicate itself, which requires that it possess genetic information encoded in DNA. DNA can be localized to a particular area of the cell, as in the nucleoid of a prokaryotic cell, or it can be contained inside another membrane, such as the nucleus of eukaryotes. Eukaryote means "true nucleus." The word prokaryote, hence, implies that the cell is from a group which arose before membrane-bound nuclei appeared in the history of life. Prokaryotic cells lack internal membranes. In contrast, eukaryotes have internal membran

 Core: Cell Structure and Function

Cell Size

JoVE 10688

The size of cells varies widely among and within organisms. For instance, the smallest bacteria are 0.1 micrometers (μm) in diameter—about a thousand times smaller than many eukaryotic cells. Most other bacteria are larger than these tiny ones—between 1-10 μm—but they still tend to be smaller than most eukaryotic cells, which typically range from 10-100 μm.

Larger is not necessarily better when it comes to cells. For instance, cells need to take in nutrients and water through diffusion. The plasma membrane surrounding cells limits the rate at which these materials are exchanged. Smaller cells tend to have a higher surface area to volume ratio than larger cells. That is because changes in volume are not linear to changes in surface area. When a sphere increases in size, the volume grows proportional to the cube of its radius (r3), while its surface area grows proportional to only the square of its radius (r2). Therefore, smaller cells have relatively more surface area compared to their volume than larger cells of the same shape. A larger surface area means more area of the plasma membrane where materials can pass into and out of the cell. Substances also need to travel within cells. Hence the rate of diffusion may limit processes in large cells. Prokaryotes are often small and divide before they face limitat

 Core: Cell Structure and Function

What is Cell Signaling?

JoVE 10985

Despite the protective membrane that separates a cell from the environment, cells need the ability to detect and respond to environmental changes. Additionally, cells often need to communicate with one another. Unicellular and multicellular organisms use a variety of cell signaling mechanisms to communicate to respond to the environment.

Cells respond to many types of information, often through receptor proteins positioned on the membrane. For example, skin cells respond to and transmit touch information, while photoreceptors in the retina can detect light. Most cells, however, have evolved to respond to chemical signals, including hormones, neurotransmitters, and many other types of signaling molecules. Cells can even coordinate different responses elicited by the same signaling molecule. Typically, cell signaling involves three steps: (1) reception of the signal, (2) signal transduction, and (3) a response. In most signal reception, a membrane-impermeable molecule, or ligand, causes a change in a membrane receptor; however, some signaling molecules, such as hormones, can traverse the membrane to reach their internal receptors. The membrane receptor can then send this signal to intracellular messengers, which transduces the message into a cellular response. This intracellular response may include a change transcription, translation, protein activation, or many

 Core: Cell Signaling

Mitosis and Cytokinesis

JoVE 10762

In eukaryotic cells, the cell's cycle—the division cycle—is divided into distinct, coordinated cellular processes that include cell growth, DNA replication/chromosome duplication, chromosome distribution to daughter cells, and finally, cell division. The cell cycle is tightly regulated by its regulatory systems as well as extracellular signals that affect cell proliferation. The processes of the cell cycle occur over approximately 24 hours (in typical human cells) and in two major distinguishable stages. The first stage is DNA replication, during the S phase of interphase. The second stage is the mitotic (M) phase, which involves the separation of the duplicated chromosomes into two new nuclei (mitosis) and cytoplasmic division (cytokinesis). The two phases are separated by intervals (G1 and G2 gaps), during which the cell prepares for replication and division. Mitosis can be divided into five distinct stages—prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Cytokinesis, which begins during anaphase or telophase (depending on the cell), is part of the M phase, but not part of mitosis. As the cell enters mitosis, its replicated chromosomes begin to condense and become visible as threadlike structures with the aid of proteins known as condensins. The mitotic spindle apparatus b

 Core: Cell Cycle and Division

Non-nuclear Inheritance

JoVE 11007

Most DNA resides in the nucleus of a cell. However, some organelles in the cell cytoplasm—such as chloroplasts and mitochondria—also have their own DNA. These organelles replicate their DNA independently of the nuclear DNA of the cell in which they reside. Non-nuclear inheritance describes the inheritance of genes from structures other than the nucleus.

Mitochondria are present in both plants and animal cells. They are regarded as the “powerhouses” of eukaryotic cells because they break down glucose to form energy that fuels cellular activity. Mitochondrial DNA consists of about 37 genes, and many of them contribute to this process, called oxidative phosphorylation. Chloroplasts are found in plants and algae and are the sites of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis allows these organisms to produce glucose from sunlight. Chloroplast DNA consists of about 100 genes, many of which are involved in photosynthesis. Unlike chromosomal DNA in the nucleus, chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA do not abide by the Mendelian assumption that half an organism’s genetic material comes from each parent. This is because sperm cells do not generally contribute mitochondrial or chloroplast DNA to zygotes during fertilization. While a sperm cell primarily contributes one haploid set of nuclear chromosomes to the zygote, an egg cell contrib

 Core: Classical and Modern Genetics

Density Gradient Ultracentrifugation

JoVE 5685

Density gradient ultracentrifugation is a common technique used to isolate and purify biomolecules and cell structures. This technique exploits the fact that, in suspension, particles that are more dense than the solvent will sediment, while those that are less dense will float. A high-speed ultracentrifuge is used to accelerate this process in order to separate biomolecules within a density…


Cell Structure - Prep Student

JoVE 10631

Visualizing Onion and Cheek Cells
Immediately before the experiment, wash and peel onion bulbs for the class.
Remove the entire brown outer skin and cut the onion in half with a knife. Pull apart the layers of the onion. The thin, nearly transparent film layers within the onion will be used by the students.
Place the onion film into a Petri…

 Lab Bio

An Overview of Genetic Engineering

JoVE 5552

Genetic engineering – the process of purposefully altering an organism’s DNA – has been used to create powerful research tools and model organisms, and has also seen many agricultural applications. However, in order to engineer traits to tackle complex agricultural problems such as stress tolerance, or to realize the promise of gene therapy for treating…


Diffusion and Osmosis - Prep Student

JoVE 10563

Preparation of Solutions for the Agar Cube Experiment
IMPORTANT: Wear gloves, goggles, and appropriate personal protective equipment – chemicals can be hazardous at high concentrations.
For the diffusion indicator solution, weigh out 1 g of phenolphthalein and add it to a beaker containing 100 mL of 95% ethanol.
To make the basic…

 Lab Bio

Ecosystem Fabrication (EcoFAB) Protocols for The Construction of Laboratory Ecosystems Designed to Study Plant-microbe Interactions

1Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2Joint Genome Institute, Department of Energy, 3Joint BioEnergy Institute, 4Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management, University of California

JoVE 57170


A Multi-well Format Polyacrylamide-based Assay for Studying the Effect of Extracellular Matrix Stiffness on the Bacterial Infection of Adherent Cells

1Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, 2Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California San Diego, 3Departments of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine

JoVE 57361

 Immunology and Infection

Study on the Metabolism of Six Systemic Insecticides in a Newly Established Cell Suspension Culture Derived from Tea (Camellia Sinensis L.) Leaves

1State Key Laboratory of Tea Plant Biology and Utilization, School of Tea and Food Science & Technology, Anhui Province Key Lab of Analysis and Detection for Food Safety, 2School of Resource & Environment, Anhui Agricultural University, Key Laboratory of Agri-food Safety of Anhui Province

JoVE 59312

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