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Organelles: Specific particles of membrane-bound organized living substances present in eukaryotic cells, such as the Mitochondria; the Golgi apparatus; Endoplasmic reticulum; Lysosomes; Plastids; and Vacuoles.

Prokaryotic Cells

JoVE 10690

Prokaryotes are small unicellular organisms in the domains Archaea and Bacteria. Bacteria include many common organisms such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli, while the Archaea include extremophiles that live in harsh environments, such as volcanic springs.

Like eukaryotic cells, all prokaryotic cells are surrounded by a plasma membrane and have DNA that contains the genetic instructions, cytoplasm that fills the interior of the cell, and ribosomes that synthesize proteins. However, unlike eukaryotic cells, prokaryotes lack a nucleus or other membrane-bound intracellular organelles. Their cellular components generally float freely within the cytoplasm, although their DNA—usually consisting of a single, circular chromosome—is clustered within a region called the nucleoid. Inside the cytoplasm, many prokaryotes have small circular pieces of DNA called plasmids. These are distinct from the chromosomal DNA in the nucleoid and tend to have just a few genes—such as genes for antibiotic resistance. Plasmids are self-replicating and can be transmitted between prokaryotes. Most prokaryotes have a cell wall made of peptidoglycan that lies outside of their plasma membrane, which physically protects the cell and helps it maintain osmotic pressure in different environments. Many prokaryotes also have a sticky capsule layer that covers

 Core: Biology

Interphase

JoVE 10761

The cell cycle occurs over approximately 24 hours (in a typical human cell) and in two distinct stages: interphase, which includes three phases of the cell cycle (G1, S, and G2), and mitosis (M). During interphase, which takes up about 95 percent of the duration of the eukaryotic cell cycle, cells grow and replicate their DNA in preparation for mitosis.

Following each period of mitosis and cytokinesis, eukaryotic cells enter interphase, during which they grow and replicate their DNA in preparation for the next mitotic division. During the G1 (gap 1) phase, cells grow continuously and prepare for DNA replication. During this phase, cells are metabolically active and copy essential organelles and biochemical molecules, such as proteins. In the subsequent S (synthesis) phase of interphase, cells duplicate their nuclear DNA, which remains packaged in semi-condensed chromatin. During the S phase, cells also duplicate the centrosome, a microtubule-organizing structure that forms the mitotic spindle apparatus. The mitotic spindle separates chromosomes during mitosis. In the G2 (gap 2) phase, which follows DNA synthesis, cells continue to grow and synthesize proteins and organelles to prepare for mitosis. In human cells, the G1 phase spans approximately 11 hours, the S phase takes about

 Core: Biology

Microbial and Fungal Diversity- Concept

JoVE 10601

Bacteria and fungi are two highly diverse groups of organisms that can have significant beneficial or detrimental impacts on human health. For this reason, it is important to understand and distinguish between individual species of these groups. As you will recall, biological taxonomists group organisms based on their phylogenetic relatedness. The three domains of life, Bacteria, Archaea, and…

 Lab Bio

Binary Fission

JoVE 10759

Fission is the division of a single entity into two or more parts, which regenerate into separate entities that resemble the original. Organisms in the Archaea and Bacteria domains reproduce using binary fission, in which a parent cell splits into two parts that can each grow to the size of the original parent cell. This asexual method of reproduction produces cells that are all genetically identical. Though its speed varies among species, binary fission is generally rapid and can yield staggering growth. In the amount of time it takes bacterial cells to undergo binary fission, the number of cells in the bacterial culture doubles. Thus, this period is the doubling time. For example, Escherichia coli cells typically divide every 20 minutes. Bacterial growth, however, is limited by factors including nutrient and space availability. Thus, binary fission occurs at much lower rates in bacterial cultures that have encountered a growth-limiting factor (i.e., entered a stationary growth phase). In addition to organisms in the Archaea and Bacteria domains, some organelles in eukaryotic cells also reproduce via binary fission. Mitochondria, for example, divide by prokaryotic binary fission. This process requires the division of mitochondrial proteins and DNA.

 Core: Biology

Microtubules

JoVE 10693

There are three types of cytoskeletal structures in eukaryotic cells—microfilaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules. With a diameter of about 25 nm, microtubules are the thickest of these fibers. Microtubules carry out a variety of functions that include cell structure and support, transport of organelles, cell motility (movement), and the separation of chromosomes during cell division. Microtubules are hollow tubes whose walls are made up of globular tubulin proteins. Each tubulin molecule is a heterodimer, consisting of a subunit of α-tubulin and a subunit of β-tubulin. The dimers are arranged in linear rows called protofilaments. A microtubule usually consists of 13 protofilaments, arranged side by side, wrapped around the hollow core. Because of this arrangement, microtubules are polar, meaning that they have different ends. The plus end has β-tubulin exposed, and the minus end has α-tubulin exposed. Microtubules can rapidly assemble—grow in length through polymerization of tubulin molecules—and disassemble. The two ends behave differently in this regard. The plus end is typically the fast-growing end or the end where tubulin is added, and the minus end is the slow-growing end or the end where tubulin dissociates—depending on the situation. This process of dynamic instability, where microtu

 Core: Biology

Responses to Gravity and Touch

JoVE 11117

Gravitropism: Plant Responses to Gravity

Higher plants sense gravity using statocytes, cells found near the vascular tissue in shoots, and in the root cap columella in roots. Statocytes contain starch-filled organelles called statoliths. The statoliths settle, or sediment, at the bottom of the statocyte in the direction of gravity.

Statolith sedimentation triggers a signaling cascade, resulting in the asymmetrical distribution of the plant hormone auxin across root and shoot tips. This process generates a lateral auxin gradient, in which auxin levels are higher on the lower sides of roots and shoots. In roots, the higher auxin concentration on the lower side inhibits cell expansion. Cells will, therefore, expand more rapidly on the upper side, causing the root to bend downward. In contrast, the higher auxin concentration on the lower side of shoots promotes cell expansion. Cells expand more rapidly on the lower side, causing shoots to bend upward. Thigmotropism: Plant Responses to Touch Climbing plants have tendrils - modified shoots that coil around objects. The tips of such tendrils have touch-sensitive sensory epidermal cells that trigger differential growth. Here, cells on the side of the tendril that touches the object grow more slowly than those on the side opposite the point of contact, a

 Core: Biology

Xylem and Transpiration-driven Transport of Resources

JoVE 11098

The xylem of vascular plants distributes water and dissolved minerals that are taken up by the roots to the rest of the plant. The cells that transport xylem sap are dead upon maturity, and the movement of xylem sap is a passive process.

Tracheids and vessel elements transport xylem sap

Tracheary elements are the transport cells of the xylem. They lack cytoplasm and organelles when they are mature and are considered part of the apoplast of the plant because they connect directly with the extracellular space. There are two types of tracheary elements: tracheids and vessel elements. Tracheids are elongated cells with lignified walls that contain small gaps called pits, which conduct xylem sap from one cell to the next in places where their walls overlap. Seedless vascular plants and most gymnosperms, or cone-bearing plants, have only tracheids, which are thought to have evolved before vessel elements. Vessel elements are wider lignified cells that stack vertically to form vessels. They are connected by perforation plates, specialized cell end structures that have spaces through which xylem sap can flow. The larger diameter and the more efficient structure of perforation plates means that vessels made up of vessel elements can move a much larger volume of sap. Most angiosperms, or flowering plants, have both tracheids a

 Core: Biology

Cytoplasm

JoVE 10967

The cytoplasm consists of organelles, an aqueous solution called the cytosol, and a framework of protein scaffolds called the cytoskeleton. The cytosol is a rich broth of ions, small organic molecules such as glucose, and macromolecules such as proteins. Several cellular processes including protein synthesis occur in the cytoplasm.

The composition of the cytosol promotes protein folding such that hydrophobic amino acid side chains are oriented away from the aqueous solution and towards the protein core. However, cellular stressors such as aging and changes in pH, temperature, or osmolarity cause protein misfolding. Misfolded proteins may aggregate to form insoluble deposits in the cytoplasm. Insoluble protein aggregates are implicated in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The eukaryotic cytoskeleton consists of three types of filamentous proteins: microtubules, microfilaments, and intermediate filaments. Microtubules–the largest type of filament–are made up of the protein tubulin. Microtubules are dynamic structures that can grow or shrink by adding or removing tubulin molecules from the ends of their strands. They provide structural stability and provide tracks for the transport of proteins and vesicles within the cell. In addition, microtu

 Core: Biology

Anatomy of Chloroplasts

JoVE 10750

Green algae and plants, including green stems and unripe fruit, harbor chloroplasts—the vital organelles where photosynthesis takes place. In plants, the highest density of chloroplasts is found in the mesophyll cells of leaves.

A double membrane surrounds chloroplasts. The outer membrane faces the cytoplasm of the plant cell on one side and the intermembrane space of the chloroplast on the other. The inner membrane separates the narrow intermembrane space from the aqueous interior of the chloroplast, called the stroma. Within the stroma, another set of membranes form disk-shaped compartments—known as thylakoids. The interior of a thylakoid is called the thylakoid lumen. In most plant species, the thylakoids are interconnected and form stacks called grana. Embedded in the thylakoid membranes are multi-protein light-harvesting (or antenna) complexes. These complexes consist of proteins and pigments, such as chlorophyll, that capture light energy to perform the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis. These processes release oxygen and produce chemical energy in the form of ATP and NADPH. The second part of photosynthesis—the Calvin cycle—is light-independent and takes place in the stroma of the chloroplast. The Calvin cycle captures CO2 and uses the ATP and NADPH to ultimately produce sugar.

 Core: Biology

Mitochondria

JoVE 10694

Mitochondria and peroxisomes are organelles that are the primary sites of oxygen usage in eukaryotic cells. Mitochondria carry out cellular respiration—the process that converts energy from food into ATP—the primary form of energy used by cells. Peroxisomes carry out a variety of functions, primarily breaking down different substances such as fatty acids.

Peroxisomes contain up to 50 enzymes and are surrounded by a single membrane. They carry out oxidative reactions that break down molecules and produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as a by-product. H2O2 is toxic to cells, but the peroxisome contains an enzyme—catalase—that converts H2O2 into harmless water and oxygen. In addition, catalase uses H2O2 to break down alcohol in the liver into aldehyde and water. However, since H2O2 is produced in very low quantities in the body, other enzymes primarily degrade alcohol. A critical function of the peroxisome is to break down fatty acids in a process called β oxidation. The resulting product—acetyl-CoA—is released into the cytosol and can travel to the mitochondria, where it is used to produce ATP. In mammalian cells, the mitochondria also carry out β oxidation, as well as using products from the catabolism o

 Core: Biology
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