Study Session: Middle School Cell Bio

Posted by 78a7e62a tiny Jonathan Soma on aug 26, 2011 under Blog Post

Study Session is a review of a test we presented to everyone at a party ages and ages ago. Follow along with the whole test here.

All right, question number one! Let's go:

1. You’re at a party in a cell hoping to impress the Golgi body. Apparently they recycle. Where do you toss your leftovers?

A. Ribosome

B. Vacuole

C. Endoplasmic reticulum

D. Lysosomes

Yep, vacuole is the right answer, but let's start off with one of the most pun-friendly terms in the history of cell biology: Golgi body. It's also known as a Golgi apparatus, which can be a pretty fun one, too (thank you, My So-Called Life).

The important pieces inside of a cell are called organelles, and the Golgi apparatus is one of the largest. It was discovered in 1897 by a physician named Camillo (gasp) Golgi, although at first some people just thought oh it's just an optical illusion! Luckily for Golgi, it wasn't. The Golgi body serves as a processing and repackaging plant for proteins and lipids in the cell, although I have no idea what that really means.

Where do the proteins come from? Our buddies in A), ribosomes. Ribosomes take messenger RNA that's being passed around the cell and read the instructions on it to mix together amino acids into brand new proteins. They're always small round little dudes on the cell charts.

I won't begrudge you if you think C) endoplasmic reticulum is something from Ghostbusters. It comes in two flavors - rough endoplasmic reticulum and smooth endoplasmic reticulum - which both make a bunch of stuff in the cell.

B) Vacuoles are the trash bags of the cell, but the kind of trash bags that you sometimes use if you're going to be moving and don't have a good place for your stuff. Vacuoles will basically hold anything: food, water, bits of waste, anything. When they're full they end up filling up a lot of space inside the cell, like a subcellular hoarder. 

But a good one! Ever seen a droopy plant? That's because plants use their vacuoles to store water, and when they get dried out, the vacuoles empty out and lose their shape and wham! droopy plant. Take that fact to the bank, please.

C) Lysosomes are produced by the Golgi body, and are basically little portable everything-digestors. Like when you buy a goat instead of taking the trash out. They float around gobbling up things inside the cell like absorbed food and whatnot.

But let's say there isn't any food, what then? It starts doing what any self-respecting goat would do and starts eating the house it lives in, consuming organelles to help the cell stay alive.

This has earned them nickname "suicide bags" or "suicide sacks," which amazingly don't seem to turn up any results on MySpace for band names. We've got an 1982 track from a band called !Action Pact!, though, so I'll leave you with that. Happy cell biology-ing:


Tagged with science trivia study session

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