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2.2 Cell Structure and Function



⏱️  2 min read

written by

Tejas Bhartiya

tejas bhartiya

June 8, 2020

As with most biological processes, the structure of all of the organelles listed above contribute to the function of that organelle. A few examples are below:


The inner foldings of the mitochondria membrane, referred to as cristae, are essential to the increased surface area of the inner membrane. This increased surface area allows for much more space for the Electron Transport Chain (ETC), an essential part of cellular respiration. The matrix, used as the site of the Krebs cycle, is right next door and can therefore transfer its products easily to the ETC. 


Similarly, the stacked thylakoid membranes of the chloroplast allow for an increase in surface area necessary for the ETC of the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis. These membranes are also lined with photosystems and chlorophyll, increasing the amount of energy that the plant can get from light. Similarly, the proximity of the stroma to the thylakoids allows for the sharing of products between the Calvin Cycle (which happens in the stroma) and the light-dependent reactions (more on all of this in Unit 3!).

Plasma Membrane

The plasma membrane, discussed more below, is specifically designed to be semi-permeable. This means that some molecules are able to travel through without any problem, while others need specific proteins in order to help them across. The plasma membrane allows for the creation of a concentration gradient, an essential part of many biological processes.


The plasma membrane that contains the lysosome is incredibly important. If the hydrolytic enzymes inside of the lysosome were to burst, all of the cell's organelles may burst as well, and the cell would die. In order to prevent this, the membrane is specially designed to keep these enzymes in. The lysosome will bind with other vesicles that contain contents necessary for digestion when needed.

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