A cell is the most basic unit of life. Just as the world’s largest buildings are made of many bricks, the largest organisms – trees, great whales, dinosaurs – are made up of many cells. By contrast, the bodies of some of the world’s most influential organisms, such as bacteria, consist of a single cell.
While cells share some key features, scientists often separate cells into two groups: prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells.
• Prokaryotic cells have just one internal compartment. Organisms in domains Bacteria and Archaea are prokaryotic. Prokaryotic organisms are unicellular – in other words, each individual is made up of just one cell.
• Eukaryotic cells have multiple internal compartments called organelles, each with its own membrane. All organisms in domain Eukarya have eukaryotic cells. These organisms may be unicellular, like protists and some fungi, or multicellular (made of many cells) like plants and animals.
In this lab you will become familiar with the key structures (parts) of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and compare the similarities and differences of these two types of cells. Follow the Instructions to complete parts A-D below, then submit this document.
Part A: Prokaryotic cells
Use your textbook to investigate the questions below. Then answer in your own words (2 points each).
1. Describe the location of each part of the prokaryotic cell envelope from outermost to innermost. You must mention the cell membrane, the cell wall, and the glycocalyx (or capsule) to receive full credit.
2. Describe the role of the following internal components of prokaryotic cells: plasmid, cytoplasm, nucleoid region, and ribosome.
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