Cell Theory and the Structure of Cells

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Cell Theory

Cells are the basic unit of life, all organisms are made up of 1 or more cells, and all cells arise from existing cells.

Contributors to Cell Theory


Robert Hooke, a British scientist, first named cells in 1665. He observed cork with a microscope.


Matthias Jakob Schleiden, a German botanist, concluded that plants were made of cells.


Theodor Schwann, a German zoologist, found that all living things are made of cells.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch fabric store owner, ground a lens that magnified the microscope 200x's.


Rudolf Virchow, a German doctor, disputed the idea of spontaneous generation (the idea that cells come from nothing) and concluded that cells come from other cells.

Cell Structures

Cell Membrane

The cell membrane is a fence with gates to allow certain materials in and out. It is selectively permeable.

Cell Wall

The cell wall provides structural support and protection to the cell. It is a plant structure.


The cytoplasm is responsible for cell expansion, growth, and replication. It fills the cell.


The nucleus controls the activities of the cell. It is the control center.

Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER)

The smooth ER makes lipids, while the rough ER modifies and changes proteins. It is involved in transport and storage.

Golgi Apparatus

The Golgi Apparatus modifies protein vesicles and makes lysosomes. It is the cell packaging center.


The mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell.

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