We often hear about how incredible our world is and how it is made up of innumerable complexities. What many don’t realize however, is that all these complexities are made up of very basic units that have been combined in a variety of ways. For living organisms, the basic unit of life is known as a cell.

What is a Cell?

A cell is a unit of life that is the basic building block of all organisms. Every single living organism is composed of cells, from single-celled organisms like bacteria and protists, to the trillions of cells that make up humans and other higher life forms. All the cells of any organism are connected to each other and must cooperate for the organism to survive and thrive.

How is a Cell Different from Other Cells?

Cells vary in size and structure:

    • Prokaryotic cells are the simplest type of cell and do not have a nucleus. These cells are typically found in bacteria.
    • Eukaryotic cells are more complex and often have a nucleus containing the cell’s DNA.
    • Multicellular organisms contain both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells in different parts of the organism.

No matter the type of cell or organism, they are all made up of a core set of components that include DNA, cell walls, membranes and organelles.

What Roles Do Cells Play?

Cells play an incredibly vital role in the life of an organism and all the processes it depends on for survival:

    • Metabolizing nutrients – Cells use energy from sources like food to convert into energy that can be used by other parts of the body.
    • Secreting proteins and other molecules – Cells help to create proteins, fats and other molecules that are essential for life.
    • Transporting materials – Cells help to transport materials needed for growth and repair throughout the body.
    • Regulating growth – Cells help to regulate the growth and development of an organism.


The cell is the basic unit of life and plays a vital role in the survival and growth of all living organisms. Without cells, life as we know it would not exist and every single organism on Earth would be unable to exist. As we continue to observe and explore the world around us, it’s important to keep in mind the incredible complexity that can be reduced to a single cell.

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