Diploid Cell: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Mutant or Normal -…
  • 0:49 Diploid - Makes Life Work
  • 2:15 How Cells Stay Diploid
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christine Morgan

Christine has taught college Biology and Anatomy, and has a Master's degree in Anatomy.

Diploid cells are the most numerous cells in all living things - plants and animals. In this lesson, you will learn why they're important for life to continue and how they keep future cells healthy.

Mutant or Normal - It's in the DNA

You may know that your body is made up of millions of cells, and you've probably heard of DNA and that it's all throughout your body, but did you ever wonder how that DNA got moved all around you in the first place? And, with all the talk of mutations, how did we end up being normal at all? Well, your cells have a few ways of keeping it all under control, and part of it happens because your regular body cells are all diploid.

Diploid may seem like a strange word, but most science words and word parts have meanings that caused discoverers to name structures in a certain way. In this case, di means two, and ploid is talking about the number of chromosome copies that are in a cell. Okay, maybe two copies of chromosomes sounds good, but what does it have to do with not being a mutant?

Diploid - Makes Life Work

Chromosomes are the genetic material made of our DNA - the special molecules that carry all the directions for the cells to carry out. DNA is what makes us the unique individuals that we are. Organisms may be similar, but there are no two exactly alike. Healthy humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes in every cell. Other organisms have different amounts, but they are always in pairs.

From the first division of a newly fertilized egg, most multicellular organisms are diploid. The two copies of DNA come one from mom and one from dad. If there were more or less, there would be no survival. It would be a serious mutation. There are some plants that can have multiple copies of DNA and actually have great characteristics, which is one form of food plant genetic modification you may have heard about.

Cells of all body tissues, like bone, muscle, nerve, and skin, carry the same two copies of DNA that the organism started with because the DNA actually directs this to happen when they divide. Well, what in the world makes all those cells different then? When diploid cells grow and reproduce they don't alter what DNA is present; it is always the same. But, not every bit of the DNA is expressed, or used, in each type of cell. These cells will all differentiate, or become specialized for a certain function, depending on what part of the DNA is expressed, but they will still be diploid.

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