What Is the Function of Cytoplasm?

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Cytoplasm helps eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells by aiding in the transport of cell materials, moving genetic material and assisting with cellular respiration. It also gives cells their shape and supports biochemical reactions.

Cytoplasm is found in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. It exists within the plasma membrane, which is a structure that encloses the cell’s contents. The plasma membrane is a three-dimensional object that connects to and supports other cell components. In plants, the plasma membrane is an inner layer that is surrounded by an external cell wall. Cytoplasm is made of approximately 80 percent water. It helps cells expand over the course of reproduction and protects other organelles by surrounding them with a thick liquid substance.

Prokaryotic Cells

Although it carries out the same basic functions in the two types of cells, cytoplasm has a slightly different structure in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Prokaryotic cells are the basic type of cell found in living organisms. They comprise single-celled organisms like bacteria. Prokaryotic organisms can often withstand environmental extremes that other organisms cannot. They can live in places without oxygen and in very hot or cold climates. They can also survive at the bottom of the ocean. Prokaryotic cells vary slightly in size, but they share some common features. All prokaryotic cells have a cell wall and a plasma membrane, but they do not have compartmentalized plasma membranes. In many prokaryotic cells, genetic information is written on a single strand of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). However, some prokaryotic cells have smaller structures called plasmids, which are small circles of DNA. Prokaryotic cells have ribosomes, which help create new proteins. Some prokaryotic cells have flagella, which are tail-like whips that propel them through water. In prokaryotic cells, the cytoplasm exists in the plasma membrane, which is not broken down into smaller organelles. In prokaryotic cell membranes, the cytoplasm holds the molecules that are necessary for the cell to carry out its life functions.

Eukaryotic Cells

Eukaryotic cells are found in multi-cellular organisms, including plants and animals. Eukaryotic cells have a more complex cell structure than prokaryotic cells. They also have more organelles to carry out basic functions. In eukaryotic cells, the cytoplasm also contains a cytoskeleton that is made up of cytoplasmic filaments. The cytoplasm in all eukaryotic cells has similar components, including microtubules and mitochondria. Microtubules are straight, cylinder-like cell components that help transport materials through the cell. They also give cells shape and structure. Mitochondria are long organelles in eukaryotic cell cytoplasm. These organelles play a key role in helping plants break down molecules to produce energy. Just as prokaryotic cells have some differences, eukaryotic cells of plants are slightly different than cells in animals. Unlike animal cells, plant cells do not have flagella, cilia, centrioles, lysosomes or intermediate filaments. However, they do have rigid cell walls, plasmodesmata and chloroplasts. In plant cells, the cytoplasm is connected to the cell nucleus through the endoplasmic reticulum, which is a sac-like network that produces and transports chemical compounds for use inside and outside the cell. Plant cell endoplasmic reticulum is connected to other cells through plasmodesmata, which are small tubes that resemble bridges between cells. Since plants are stationary, most plant cells do not have flagella to aid with movement.