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Structural Variations in Cells

 Variations in Shape and Size

Cells differ in shape and size. This depends on the kind of function they perform. The following illustration shall indicate how their structural variation help in performing the function they are specialized for.

Cell Type

Cell Shape

Cell Function/ Property

Smooth Muscle Cell


Contraction and relaxation

Red Blood Corpuscle


Carry respiratory gases

Egg Cell


Food Storage

Sperm Cell

Linear, flagellated

Motile, Swimming

Bone Cell

Circular, with irregular projections

Skeletal frame work

Nerve Cell

Linear, thread-like

Carrying impulses

Interestingly, there are cells which can change their shape. Amoeba, a unicellular organism and WBCs in humans are two typical examples.



 Variations in Number

The number of cells too differs from organism to organism. Similarly their number increases as the organism grows. Obviously, this is decided by the size of the individual organism and the kind of functions the cell has to perform.


Example : The number of cells in a worm is not the same as that of an insect; and definitely, the number is still greater in a bigger organism like a fish. And again, the number of cells in you are greater than when you were just five years old. In other words, the size and growth of an organism is determined by the number of cells it has.


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