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Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of cell specialization.

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Introduction

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of cell specialization. Cell specialization, or rather, cell differentiation, is the process by which unspecialized structures become modified and specialized for the performance of specific functions. This process usually occurs in multicellular organisms, which consist of many groups of specialized cells making up their tissues and organs. Unicellular organisms consist of one general cell under which all activities are housed. In animals, the development of embryos can be divided into three phases; cleavage, gastrulation and organogeny. During cleavage, the zygote undergoes repeated mitotic division to form a hollow ball of cells. In gastrulation, these cells then continue to divide and become rearranged into special layers, called germ layers, within the embryo. It is during the third phase of organogeny that the cells of the germ layers within the enlarging embryo begin to undergo further cell division as well as cell specialization to form the organs of the embryo. This results in the formation of the epithelia, connective tissues, nerves and muscle. Other specialized cells such as red blood cells are also formed. In flowering plants, the embryo is formed in the seed, which develops from a fertilized ovule. Initially, all the cells of the embryo are meristemic - capable of further cell division. However, as the embryo begins to grow into an independent seedling, its cells become restricted to specialized regions called primary meristems. Occurring at the tips of stems and roots, these cells are responsible for growth in the length of the stem and root. ...read more.

Middle

At most times during their life cycles, Dictyostelium cells exist as solitary, independent amoebae wandering about over their substrate. Each cell represents a complete, self-sufficient organism. However, when the food supplies become scarce, an entirely new type of activity is triggered amongst the cells and they stream towards each other to form an aggregate, becoming a small part of a multicellular individual. This new stage in the life cycle is termed a pseudoplasmodium, which migrates for a period over the surface of its container. Close examination of the cells of the pseudoplasmodium shows that the cells are no longer a homogenous population. After a while, the pseudoplasmodium will stop moving about and begin to round up on the substrate and rise into the air as an elongated fruiting body. This body consists of a slender stalk supporting a round mass of cells towards its tip. Close examination indicates that the stalk cells and spore cells are not only very different under the microscope, but are also very different in function. The stalk cells support the spore mass above the substrate whilst the spore cells ensure the continuity of the population into the next generation. However, as the evolution of cell specialization causes the cells to become more profoundly specialized in its function, it also decreases the possibility of the cells changing their functions if the unusual need arises. Changes to cells are sometimes drastic and irreversible, such as the loss of the nucleus in erythrocytes as mentioned previously or the total loss of living contents in mature xylem vessels of flowering plants. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the number of cells needed to make up a multicellular organism and a unicellular one balances the scale yet again. Cell specialization not only helps an organism to grow larger, but also enables its cells to carry out functions efficiently and effectively. This main advantage does comes with a price - not being able to change to adapt to a sudden change in environment and the need to take in more complex nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. But no matter what disadvantages it may hold, the cons of specialization are outweighed by advantages since multicellular organisms are able to achieve more than just simple survival. Humans are able to make active choices as to what to do, what to eat or even whom to choose as their mates. Paramecium, a unicellular organism, on the other hand, cannot. Plants are able to adapt to their present environments through more complex systems of transport using specialized phloem and xylem tissue. Though these cells have to rely on other cells for other basic needs, it does not put them at any direct disadvantage. All cells are able to work together for the proper functioning of the organism, which may be seen as a better version of the single-celled organism. Thus, advantage of cell specialization greatly outweighs its diadvantage and nature coule be said to have made a rgith decision when the evolution of cell specialization in organisms came about. ???�????????^??????$?G?��???????�s disadvantages and nature could be said to have made a right turn when the evolution of cell specialization in organisms came about. Michele Ng 2SO3B ...read more.

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