Cytoplasm contains a gel substance called cytosol that is contained within a cell membrane and organelles of animal cells of sub-structures. The contents of any prokaryote organisms that do not have a nucleus will be housed in the cytoplasm, but eukaryote organisms that have a nucleus will separate this material from the cytoplasm in an area known as the nucleoplasm. In most cases the cytoplasm is 70-90 percent water and is a colorless material. Cytoplasm can be jelly like or liquid, though this depends on what type of cell it is in and how that cell is designed to interact with the body.
Most cellular devices occur within the cytoplasm including the metabolic pathways such as cell division or glycolysis. Granular and inner mass known as the endoplasm as well as the clear, glassy outer layer known as the cell cortex and ectoplasm are controlled within the cytoplasm. Movement of calcium ions throughout the cytoplasm are believed to signal metabolic processes and activity in animals. The movement of the cytoplasm around the vacuoles, a process known as cytoplasmic streaming, is used to signal this process in plants.
Constituents of the Cystoplasm
Cytoplasm contains three major elements that are used to signal its effects in different parts of the cells.
- Organelles, or the membrane bound structures within the cells are given specific functions that contribute to the larger functionality of the cell. Major organelles such as the endoplamic reticulum, mitochondria, vacuoles, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes and chloroplasts in plants can be suspended in this area of the cytosol.
- Cortosol is contained in cytoplasm that is found within organelles that are membrane bound. This can make up almost 70 percent of the volume of a cell and contains organic molecules, salts and water. Because the network of fibers and dissolved macromolecules including proteins is very high in cortisol, macromolecular crowding can occur here if the cortosol is not at an ideal solution. This can alter how the components interact.
- Cortosol is made from a combination of dissolved molecules, cytoskeleton filaments and water, though it also contains the protein filaments that create the cytoskeleton and structures including the ribosome, vault complexes and proteasomes. The fluid portion of this type of cytoplasm is known as the endoplasm.
Cytotoplasmic inclusions, small insoluble substances that are suspended within the cytosol are included in a wide variety of cell types in animals as well as silicon dioxide and calcium oxalate in plants which can be converted into glycogen, starch or polyhydroxybutyrate for energy.
These are commonly seen as lipid droplets that are made up of lipids and protein that can be stored as sterols or fatty acids that are used for energy. These lipid droplets are a majority of the adipocyte volume in cells that are specially designed to store lipids, though other cells may hold these as necessary.
Viewing Cystoplasm at a Microscopic Level
Because cells are too small to be seen by the naked eye, there is no way to observe or understand cytoplasm without viewing it through a microscope lens.
- Unlike the organelles of a cell, the cytoplasm does not take on any particular shape or function that can be distinctly recognized, but rather helps to make up the body of the cell which provides additional structure for the vital portions of this body.
- When viewed through an electron microscope the cytoplasm of the cells can be viewed in intimate detail. Animal cells can be seen as a three dimensional shape that contains strands of protein set in a lattice pattern. This is known as the microtrabecular lattice that is designed to interlace with other structures in the cytoplasm to hold other structures in place. This discovery helped scientists to realize that the cytoplasm was not actually a solid mass, but a group of lattes that are interconnected to create something of a fence that would hold together the rest of the cells and prevent the organelles from shifting.
- The cytoplasm contains a cytoskeleton. Not only does this help to provide a shape for the cell but these cytoplasmic filaments help the cell to move as necessary. The alignment of these filaments will vary based on the needs and shape of the given cell.
- The cytoplasm can also contain a variety of salts that are capable of conducting electricity. A cell can use these properties to power the mechanics of the cell as necessary. This function will vary based on how the cell interacts with the rest of the body and the specific task the cell is desired to take on.
In addition to helping to provide structure for the cell, the cytoplasm can be used to dissolve waste and nutrients. The cell can use these filaments to move and move materials throughout the cell by using cytoplasmic streaming, a process that creates a churning motion within the cell body. The nucleus is capable of changing the shape of the cytoplasm, flowing throughout the mass as the cell moves.
Research and Potential Controversies
Cytoplasm and many of the known organelles in a cell are designed from maternal gamete which is still being researched for a full understanding of its functionality.
- There is not a great deal of existing research on the maternal inheritance and cytoplasmic inheritance of mitochondrial DNA compared to genomic DNA or that shared within the cell nucleus.
- Many traits or items within a cell that have been labeled as female have not been researched to their full extent. The cytoplasm is one of the objects that has fallen into this category, with the nucleus being labelled as male and therefore receiving more attention from researchers. This is similar to the sperm and egg being gendered in a full sized animal body. It is generally believed that both the cytoplasm and the nucleus are essential to creating new life through cell division.
Much of the older information surrounding the cytoplasm was based on the idea that it was a passive part of the cell, existing to provide structure for the active elements that encouraged cellular behavior. This outdated understanding of the cytoplasm has been replaced as scientists have discovered that the cytoplasm is used to encourage viscoplastic behavior. This helps to move nutrients in and out of the cell to fuel the other organelles.
This also helps to move the cell as necessary throughout the body so cells may interact with one another. The reciprocal rate of broken bonds within the cytoplasmic network that helps to create these reactions can be measured and reported, creating a better understanding of the different functions of a variety of types of cells within an animal.
Cytoplasm may also be referred to as protoplasm, or the plasma membrane that surrounds the contents of a cell. This is a generalized term for the water, amino acids, ions, nucleic acids, lipids, proteins and other items that make up this substance. Cytoplasm is more often used to describe the protoplasm in eukaryotes. It is believed that eukaryotes contain a protoplasm that is divisible into a cytoplasm that provides structure and is controlled by the nucleus of a cell that has developed electron microscopy.
This was originally believed to be because cytoplasm was a homogeneous fluid that simply existed to help cells maintain their shape, but it is now known that cells contain a variety of substances and organelles that assist with the functionality of the cell.