The cell is the basic structural, functional, and biological unit of all known living organisms. A cell is the smallest unit of life that can replicate independently, the study of cells is called cell biology. Cells consist of cytoplasm enclosed within a membrane, which contains many such as proteins. Organisms can be classified as unicellular or multicellular, while the number of cells in plants and animals varies from species to species, humans contain more than 10 trillion cells. Most plant and animal cells are only under a microscope. The cell was discovered by Robert Hooke in 1665, who named the unit for its resemblance to cells inhabited by Christian monks in a monastery. Cells emerged on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago, Cells are of two types, eukaryotic, which contain a nucleus, and prokaryotic, which do not. Prokaryotes are single-celled organisms, while eukaryotes can be either single-celled or multicellular, prokaryotic cells were the first form of life on Earth, characterised by having vital biological processes including cell signaling and being self-sustaining. They are simpler and smaller than eukaryotic cells, and lack membrane-bound organelles such as the nucleus, prokaryotes include two of the domains of life, bacteria and archaea. The DNA of a prokaryotic cell consists of a chromosome that is in direct contact with the cytoplasm. The nuclear region in the cytoplasm is called the nucleoid, most prokaryotes are the smallest of all organisms ranging from 0.5 to 2.0 µm in diameter. Though most prokaryotes have both a cell membrane and a wall, there are exceptions such as Mycoplasma and Thermoplasma which only possess the cell membrane layer. The envelope gives rigidity to the cell and separates the interior of the cell from its environment, the cell wall consists of peptidoglycan in bacteria, and acts as an additional barrier against exterior forces. It also prevents the cell from expanding and bursting from osmotic pressure due to a hypotonic environment, some eukaryotic cells also have a cell wall. Inside the cell is the region that contains the genome, ribosomes. The genetic material is found in the cytoplasm. Prokaryotes can carry extrachromosomal DNA elements called plasmids, which are usually circular, linear bacterial plasmids have been identified in several species of spirochete bacteria, including members of the genus Borrelia notably Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. Though not forming a nucleus, the DNA is condensed in a nucleoid, plasmids encode additional genes, such as antibiotic resistance genes
A fluorescent image of an endothelial cell. Nuclei are stained blue, mitochondria are stained red, and microfilaments are stained green.
Human cancer cells with nuclei (specifically the DNA) stained blue. The central and rightmost cell are in interphase, so the entire nuclei are labeled. The cell on the left is going through mitosis and its DNA has condensed.