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Terms

Unicellular

Organisms made of only one, lonely ole' cell—or one independent, self-sufficient cell. Depends on how you look at it.

Animalia

The Animal Kingdom. Simba's homeland and a group of multicellular heterotrophic eukaryotes that go through a blastula stage of development.

Autotroph

Organisms that know how to cook for themselves, otherwise known as organisms that can make their own food from sunlight, or from other chemicals like ammonia or hydrogen sulfide.

Blastula

A stage in animal embryonic development, where cells are organized into a hollow liquid-filled sphere

Cambrian Explosion

During the Cambrian Era, the number of eukaryotes "exploded" in number and diversity

Cell Wall

Surrounds the plasma membrane of some cells, giving these cells structure and protection.

Cellular Respiration

The process of converting food into chemical energy in the mitochondria of heterotrophs

Cellulose

A polymer of sugar monomers that makes up the cell walls of plants as well as some algae

Chitin

A polymer of glucose derivatives that can be found in the cell walls of fungi and the exoskeletons of animals in the phylum arthropoda.

Chloroplast

The green organelle that works closely with leprechauns to perform photosynthesis in eukaryotes...or at least the green organelle that performs photosynthesis.

Cilia

(singular: cilium) Medusa-like projections, composed of microtubules in a "9 plus 2" arrangement (9 pairs in a circle surrounding 2 more microtubules) that move fluid around a cell. Prokaryotes have them too, but the "hair" is totally different.

Cytoskeleton

What a cell hangs up as a glow-in-the-dark Halloween decoration. Also, the support system of the cell that forms structures important for movement such as flagella and pseudopodia.

Deuterostomes

Animals that form from a blastula where the blastopore becomes the anus.

Endosymbiotic Theory

The theory that describes how some organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, originated as free-living bacteria that craved the protection and extra wiggle room of a larger cell.

Eukaryote

Cells with all the bells and whistles—a membrane bound nucleus and other organelles

Flagella

A long whip-like structure used for motility in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In eukaryotes, it's composed of microtubules in the same "9 plus 2" arrangement as cilia.

Fungi

(singular: fungus) A kingdom of eukaryotes that tastes great on a burger with Swiss cheese. Also, a kingdom of mostly multicellular heterotrophs.

Heterotroph

Organisms that can't cook, and may not even be able to microwave. These cells need to eat other organisms or already-prepared organic matter to survive.

Hyphae

Hyphives are the fungal version of a "You rock!" Hyphae are the fungal versions of roots that are the site of nutrient absorption.

Microtubules

A component of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton that also structures flagella and cilia. Composed of a lucky 13 chains of alpha and beta tubulin dimers rolled up to look like a tiny hollow toilet paper roll.

Mitochondria

The site of eukaryotic cellular respiration, where the cell makes all its ATP. Mitochondria evolved from previously free-living bacteria that developed a symbiotic relationship with a larger cell.

Model Organism

Any non-human species (well, usually) that is used to study disease, genetics, or development without having to worry about keeping a cage full of Uncle Al clones. Model organisms are usually chosen because their genes are easy to manipulate, reproduce quickly, and don't stage riots.

Multicellular

An organism composed of many cells

NcRNA

Also known as a non-coding RNA, an RNA that doesn't code for a protein or any secret espionage info

Notochord

A rod-shaped structure that forms during chordate embryonic development. This distinguishes the chordate phylum from the other phyla in the animal kingdom.

Nucleus

The hallmark of a eukaryotic cell, where the majority of the DNA is housed and replication and transcription of this DNA takes place.

Organelle

Uh…the other hallmark of a eukaryotic cell—membrane bound mini-organs of cells, each with a specific job or role that separates this job from the rest of the cell

Photosynthesis

The process that converts sunlight and water into food, fixing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to be made into sugars. In eukaryotes, this happens within a chloroplast.

Plantae

The eukaryotic kingdom that includes photosynthetic organisms that reproduce by alteration of generations, switching between the production of spores and gametes like alternating red and black on a checkerboard.

Prokaryote

If you're not a eukaryote, you're a prokaryote…although, if you're a prokaryote, you're probably not reading this. Prokaryotes don't have membrane bound organelles, nuclei, or eyes.

Protista

The kingdom of all the leftover eukaryotes. That's not a bad thing. We very often look forward to our leftovers. Mmmm. They are "usually" the simpler cells, and the first eukaryotes on Earth.

Protostomes

Animals that form from a blastula, where the blastopore becomes the mouth

Pseudopodia

Who needs real feet when you have fake feet? Pseupodia is greek for "fake feet." These are temporary cell membrane extensions that some protists use to move towards something appetizing, or simply sashay across the dance floor.

Ribosome

The tiny little cell structure that performs translation, or protein synthesis. It exists in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes, but prokaryotic ribosomes are a little smaller than their fellow eukaryotic translators.

Septa

(singular: septum) In fungi, division between hyphae cells of "septate hyphae" that still have small take-out windows to allow nutrients, like burgers and fries, to be passed between hyphae cells

Symmetry

A defining characteristic of the animal phylum. It can be either radial, where you could cut up an organism like slicing a pie and get equal parts, or bilateral, where you could fold an organism in half and get identical parts.

Tissue

An organized group of cells that performs a function, or helps you blow your nose (also composed of tissues).

Unicellular

Organisms made of only one, lonely ole' cell—or one independent, self-sufficient cell. Depends on how you look at it.

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