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What are specialized cells?

In many multicellular organisms, there are many specialized cells present that commit to only one particular function in the body. Firstly, in plants and animals, there are unspecialized and specialized cells. Unspecialized cells have the basic organelles for performing normal tasks in the body, and they have the ability to divide into the same types of cells and can also form specialized cells by the process of differentiation. The specialized cells have several adaptations like more mitochondria or have tiny hairs called cilia, and variations in their shape and size, which enable them to be efficient in their job.  These adaptations are controlled by the DNA of these cells.
There are many examples of specialized cells in the animals like red blood cells, nerve cells, muscle cells, sperm cells, and egg cells. While in the plants, there are root hair cells, guard cells, palisade cells, and xylem cells. 
The following tables explain the adaptations and functions of specialized cells in animal and plant cells.  

Specialized cells in Animals
Red Blood Cell
  • Hemoglobin protein bind oxygen
  • No nucleus or other organelles like ER or mitochondria so more space for hemoglobin to take up oxygen
  • The biconcave shape gives increased surface area for diffusion
  • To transport and deliver oxygen in the body so that they can perform respiration

Nerve Cell
  • Have long axons so that the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system are in contact, and have dendrites and cell bodies for efficient communication
  • Axons have fatty myelin sheaths that speed up electrical impulse transmission
  • To conduct electrical impulses by sending and receiving signals from the brain 

Sperm Cell
  • Has a head part with a haploid nucleus and an acrosome with digestive enzymes that help to go inside the ovum
  • A mid-piece has many mitochondria which provide energy for the cell to move
  • A tail helps it to swim  
  • A male gamete is fertilized with the female gamete to form a zygote

Specialized cells in Plants
Root Hair Cell
  • Have elongated shape so more surface area for high absorption of water and ions
  • Have thin walls and no chloroplasts
  • Absorb water from the soil along with mineral ions so that it can be used in the photosynthesis

Guard Cell

  • A thin outer wall that bulges outwards; Thick inner wall that curves to open the stomata and straightens to close the stomata
  • Has chloroplasts for photosynthesis so that more sugars will be produced and cause water flow in them to become turgid
  • Forms stomatal pores that regulate the entry of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis  and loss of water for transpiration 

Palisade Cell

  • Have long column shape which helps to absorb maximum sunlight
  • Tightly packed with many chloroplasts to increase the amount of photosynthesis  
  • A male gamete is fertilized with the female gamete to form a zygote

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