What is Cytoplasm? - Definition & Functions

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  • 0:02 Definition
  • 0:51 Function
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Did you know your cells are filled with a thick fluid? Cytoplasm is an important part of your cells and serves several functions that are key to cellular health and productivity.

Parts of Cells

In biology, a cell is the basic unit of life. Your body is made up of millions of cells, and they come in all different kinds. Each type of cell serves a specific function, but they all have a very similar structure.

Each cell has a cell membrane, which surrounds the cell and protects the inner components. These internal components include a nucleus (a central structure that holds your genetic information), ribosomes (tiny structures that make proteins) and organelles (little organs that perform various functions). All cells also have cytoplasm, which is a clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of the cell and surrounds all of the internal structures.

Functions of Cytoplasm

Although the cytoplasm is a fluid, it also contains strands of proteins that serve as a lattice for holding the cell's internal components in place. The cytoplasm fluid is thicker than water, and you could think of it as similar to jam, which has lots of fruit pieces suspended in it.

Because the cytoplasm holds the internal components in place, it also serves as a protective buffer. Cells quite often make contact with other cells and surfaces, and the cytoplasm helps protect the internal parts from both internal and external damage.

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