Cell differentiation and specialization


Cells differentiate to become specialized – become specialized for the job

  • Develop different subcellular structures to be able to carry out specific functions
  • In most animal cells, the ability to differentiate is lost at an early stage, after they become specialized. lots of plant cells don’t lose this ability
  • Cells that differentiate in mature animals are mainly used for repairing and replacing cells such as skin or blood cells
  • Undifferentiated cells are called stem cells.

Sperm cells: reproduction

  • Male DNA to the female DNA
  • Long tail and streamlined head to help swim to the egg
  • Lots of mitochondria to provide energy
  • Enzymes to digest through egg cell membrane

Nerve cells: rapid signalling

  • Long and have branched connections

Muscle cells: contraction

  • Long (space to contract)
  • Lots of mitochondria to generate the energy

Root hair cells: absorbing water and minerals

  • Long hairs stick into the soil (large surface area)

Phloem and xylem cells: transporting substances

  • Long tubes joined end to end
  • Xylem cells are hollow
  • Phloem have very few subcellular structures so stuff can flow through them