What Is the Packaging and Distribution Center of the Cell?

The Golgi apparatus is known as the packaging and distribution center of the cell. Named after the physician who discovered it in 1898, the Golgi apparatus is found in both plant and animal cells. The Golgi apparatus is also called the Golgi body or the Golgi complex.

Located near the nucleus, the Golgi apparatus collects proteins and lipids (fats) built in the rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum. It then modifies, sorts and packages them into vesicles, or sealed droplets. These proteins and lipids are then sent to lysosomes (another type of organelle, or “little organ,” found within the cell). They can also go to the cell’s plasma membrane, or to a third destination somewhere completely outside of the cell.

Materials move through the Golgi body in a particular order. First, they pass through the Cis Golgi network to reach the Golgi stack. Here, three to six flattened sacs known as cisternae do the main processing. The final packaging and sorting takes place in the Trans Golgi network.

The Golgi apparatus’ packaging and sorting function is absolutely essential to a cell’s existence. All cells possess at least one of these organelles, but some plant cells may have as many as several hundred.