Why are cells small? Why carry out they have to remajor tiny in size? originally appeared on Quora: the expertise sharing network-related wright here compelling concerns are answered by human being through distinctive insights.

You are watching: Why is it important for cells to be small


Answer by Dave Featherstone, Professor of Biology/Neuroscientific research, on Quora:

Textbooks and also a lot of instructors will certainly tell you that cells should be small because they require a high ‘surchallenge to volume’ ratio, which is excellent for exaltering materials in between the inside and external of cells. But this is probably not really the size-limiting reason, because cells vary enormously in dimension and also surchallenge location to volume ratios. Bacteria are tiny compared to animal cells, for instance. And plant cells surround themselves through a cell wall that substantially limits exchange through the extracellular civilization. If exchange were limiting, then animal cells would be as tiny as bacterial cells. Or pet cells without cell wall surfaces might be a lot bigger than plant cells. Or plant cells through cell walls would be much smaller.


Others can tell you that cell dimension is limited by diffusion prices. You can’t have a really significant cell bereason it would take also lengthy for things to float from one side of a cell to the various other. But this mirrors a deep misexpertise of exactly how crowded the insides of cells are. Nopoint just ‘floats’ roughly from one side of the cell to the other. Ala lot of nothing in cells is diffusion limited. Many points are transported roughly in cells. Also, cells can be incredibly, extremely lengthy. Neurons have the right to be several feet lengthy. So obviously cells are capable of managing large ranges.

See more: Why Do Uranus And Neptune Have Blue Methane Clouds But Jupiter And Saturn Do Not?

I think cells are little because membranes are weak. If the cell gets also huge, the cell will fall apart. I think this describes why bacterial cells are small — they don’t have actually much cytoskeltal ‘reinforcement’ (although they perform have cell walls), and why substantial cells can gain incredibly huge. Muscle cells and also neurons have most relatively tough cytoskeleton in them. This helps organize them together, and therefore they have the right to be quite huge. Egg cells (like chicken eggs) have a hard shell. And they are very significant. What happens if you crack an egg shell?

At some point, I don’t recognize why cells are tiny. But you must alert that I did notblindly accept what textbooks or my teachers told me. I assumed around it closely, and came up through my own concept that fits as a lot evidence as I can think of. The next step for a scientist would be to test my idea. Perhaps I might measure cell membrane strength for a many different cells and also compare it to cell size? My hypothesis predicts that cell dimension and also membrane toughness would certainly be very correlated. Maybe I have the right to weaken cell membranes in some organism and also view if it adapts by evolving smaller sized cells?


This question originally appeared on Quora. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from specialists and also access insider expertise. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:


*

Quora: the area to acquire and share expertise, empowering civilization to learn from others and better understand the world.