Cell Biology is a branch of natural sciences that studies cells – their physiological and chemical properties, their structure, the organelles that are present in them, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. In other words, it is the study of the cell as a complete unit, and the molecular and chemical interactions that occur within a living cell. This is done both on a microscopic and cellular level.

Cell biology was earlier known by the name of cytology. The word cytology is derived from the Greek word ‘kytos’ meaning ‘container’. Cell is the fundamental (structural and functional) unit of life. It was discovered by the great scientist, Robert Hooke. The study of cell is of utmost importance because all living beings are composed of cells. Cells are the building blocks of living organisms. Therefore, it is most imperative that one studies about the dynamics, structures and functions of cells and its entities.

Immunology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology are some of the fields of biology that are closely related to the subject of cell biology. Some the internal cellular structures that are studied under this field are:

  • Cytoplasm – It is a thick liquid lying between the cell membrane holding all the cell organelles (except the nucleus).
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum – It is a eukaryotic organelle that forms an interconnected network of tubules, vesicles, and cisternae within cells. It is the major site for protein synthesis.
  • Chloroplast – This cell organelle is only found in plants. It facilitates the process of photosynthesis.
  • Golgi Apparatus – It is a eukaryotic cell organelle that is involved in processes such as packaging of macromolecules such as proteins and lipids.
  • Nucleus – It is found in eukaryotic cells and contains most of the cells genetic material.
  • Mitochondrion – This is the major energy-producing organelle which releases energy in the form of ATP.

Some of the cell processes that are studied in detail are – Metabolism, Glycolysis, Respiration, Photosynthesis, DNA repair, Cell death, Transcription, mRNA splicing, Cell signaling, Reproduction, Adhesion, Active transport and Passive transport etc.

Though the cell is really small and cannot be seen by human eyes, cell biology is extremely vast. In this little unit of living beings, several mysteries, life-giving chemicals are present and various processes take place without which life would cease to exist.

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