Where Is the Nucleus Located in a Cell?

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  • 0:01 Cells as Building Blocks
  • 1:12 The Nucleus in Animal Cells
  • 2:30 The Nucleus in a Plant Cell
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

A cell is a complex microscopic structure constantly working to keep organisms alive. Many cells are full of organelles such as the nucleus. Where can we find this important organelle? Learn more about its location in this lesson.

Cells as Building Blocks

When you walk outside and take a look around, chances are you will see other life forms. People walking by, birds flapping through the trees, and animals roaming about. Although appearances may tell you otherwise, you have a vast amount in common with all of those living things. Of course, you and a tree do not look alike, but you, the tree, and every living thing on Earth are made of the same building blocks: cells.

Cells come in two types: prokaryotic and eukaryotic. Prokaryotes are simple, single-celled organisms such as bacteria. In this lesson, we will focus on eukaryotic cells, like those that make up plants and animals. These cells have their own tiny organs called organelles. At the heart of each eukaryotic cell is an organelle that holds an organism's genetic information, the all-important nucleus. Prokaryotes have no nucleus.

Like a safe that keeps important papers tucked away, the nucleus holds tight its genetic information (DNA). Where, exactly, is the nucleus located within a cell? Let's take a look.

The Nucleus in Animal Cells

Let's talk about animal cells. You are probably aware that cells are too small to see with the naked eye. We must turn to our trusty light microscope in order to examine these miniscule entities. Examining a cell under a microscope allows us to locate and study the various organelles, including the nucleus.

Cells are not exact replicas of each other. They do, however, have similar general characteristics that can be found under a microscope. In an animal cell, the nucleus is located in the central region. This does not mean that it's always right smack in the middle of the cell like the pit in the center of a fruit. Rather, it sits in the center of the cell in a general sense.

Bound by its own membrane, the nucleus is suspended in a jelly-like substance called cytoplasm. The nucleus is truly the area of central command in the cell, like the cockpit of an airplane. There's a great deal of work happening in the nucleus, as it sends directions for growth and reproduction.

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