Talk:Cell (biology)

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Former good article Cell (biology) was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Cell (biology):
  • About the origin of the name "cell", Robert Hooke in Micrographia cites the similarity with a honeycomb, I did not find a citation of monks cells.-- (talk) 16:05, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
    • Might as well use the honey comb origin story instead of the monk cell origin as the monks would have totally disagreed with the 3.5 million year random emergence of the first Cell structure as stated in the same paragraph.
  • 100 trillion cells in human body seems like a very high estimate, and I don't currently have access to the dead tree book source cited (Lodish, Molecular Cell Biology). Most text books seem to put this number below 50 trillion (and as low as 5 trillion, showing the range of estimation in textbooks.) A recent comprehensive study at the University of Bologna gave an estimation of 3.72 x 10^13, which I find agreeable with my personal calculations. Recommend changing this stat from 100T to 50T and citing the Univ Bologna study:
  • restructure according to the structure recommended in Wikipedia:WikiProject Science.
  • Merge with text from NCBI Science Primer User:Lexor/Temp/Cell (NCBI) is complete. Text that was not used in the article is at Talk:Cell (biology)/NCBI leftover. It is still very useful and should be merged into more specialized articles. --Lexor|Talk
  • Add information comparing the different types of eukaryotes (animals, plants, fungi, protists) and prokaryotes
  • Add information on the diversity of cell types/shapes/functions/etc, both among unicellular and multicellular organisms.
  • Protista especially are poorly represented in the article.
  • In the Organelles section, add more information about organelles in general. (Maybe some of the details about specific organelles can be removed as well.)
  • Add information (perhaps in a separate section?) on cellular dysfunction, e.g. in cancer.
  • Add information on cells in the context of biological organization
  • Add information on cell biology, on the model systems used (e.g. E. coli, S. cerevisiae, HeLa cells), etc
  • Add information on other basic cellular processes (e.g. absorption/secretion, cell signalling, intracellular transport); also refer briefly to more specialized functions such as electrical conduction
  • Fact check these points:
  • multicellular organisms have cells that "do not generally survive" when separated. Can't most plants do that? Or sponges?
    • plants: as a rule, no. certain multicellular organisms are better characterized as a collection of unicellular organisms given their lesser degree of specialization. in general, multicellular organisms have specialized cells for a reason and cannot reproduce via budding.
  • in the "cytoplasm" section, it says that all eukaryotes have cytoskeletons and implies that no prokaryotes do. Can someone confirm this?
    • prokaryotes have a cell wall to lend structural support, so their version of the cytoskeleton is not the same.
  • Are the distinctions between prokaryotes and eukaryotes as clear as they should be? Is everything about the prokaryotes right?
    • short answer: no.
  • can the line about "prokaryotic cells have three architectural regions..." be improved?
  • Is the prokaryotic cytoplasm more "granular" than in eukaryotes? Both kinds have ribosomes floating around...
  • Is the typical cell size 10 micrometers diameter, or is it the radius?
    • number given is an order of magnitude observation estimation
  • The largest observed single undivided cell is NOT the ostrich egg, but a slime mold at approximately 30 square metres.
  • Clarification needed.
 Article on cells: "Humans contain about 10 trillion (10[superscript]13) cells."
 Article on Red Blood Cells: "Adult humans have roughly 2–3 × 10[superscript]13 (20-30 trillion) red blood cells at any given time,
comprising approximately one quarter of the total human body cell number." (talk) 00:30, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Cell theory[edit]

The item on the history of cell theory repeats a very common but outdated view. A better and more recent account is:

"The work of the Czech Jan Purkyně (1787–1869) and his student and collaborator Gabriel Valentin (1810–1883) was unjustly denigrated by the nationalistic Germans. They have a claim to some priority in the cell theory. Johannes Müller (1801–1858) also made great contributions. It was, however, his student Theodor Schwann (1810–1882) and Matthias Schleiden (1804–1881) who got the credit for the cell theory, despite the fact that some of their observations were not correct, and their credits to previous workers were 'a travesty'."

The underlining is mine, to draw attention to the extent of the problem. The source for these remarks are: Harris H. 1999. The birth of the cell. Yale University Press, New Haven, Chapter 9 and especially p97. Harris is a leading cell biologist, and fluent in German, so his conclusions are quite significant. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:05, 20 October 2013 (UTC)


The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Not moved. bd2412 T 20:08, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

  • Completing WP:PTOPIC move of a move-protected article. I opened a talk section at Cell a couple of weeks ago (now at Cell (disambiguation)) and there was no objection. Sunrise (talk) 04:55, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
    • Adding original rationale from the talk section linked above. I would like to move Cell (biology) to be the primary topic for this page. Based on WP:PTOPIC, it gets >50% of the article traffic (as long as Mobile phone is excluded which is far down the page and a less direct connection). Sunrise (talk) 04:47, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
    • Note for closer a few days into the discussion. The sequence of events relating to this RM was as follows: I tried to assess support for the move using a talk section at Cell (then a disambiguation page), and when nobody responded after a couple of weeks I decided the proposal was uncontroversial - so I moved the page to Cell (disambiguation) and put in a technical request for a move from Cell (biology) to Cell. The TR was declined, and this RM was opened using my TR comment (but not the original rationale, thus my comment under the previous bullet point). The dab page is still at Cell (disambiguation), since (without thinking) I had redirected Cell pending my request, so a G6 will be needed. At this point I'm agreeing with the comments that the discussion has been sidetracked, and particularly with Red Slash's comment that the move should be re-proposed. Sunrise (talk) 05:54, 10 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Support as nominator. Sunrise (talk) 04:47, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
  • To many people, the meaning "prison cell" is as important. Anthony Appleyard (talk) 06:34, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose - opening a discussion on a dab page gets no takers.. who watches dab pages. Cell has too many technical uses for the original use (if it even is original?) to automatically be primary. In ictu oculi (talk) 08:22, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
    • The word "cell" came from Latin "cella", and its history is in , and the word was around an age and an age before biological cells were discovered. Anthony Appleyard (talk) 09:29, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
    • Neither etymology or the total number of uses should mean anything though, right? Unless I'm reading PTOPIC incorrectly, it should be sufficient if the page gets >50% of the total views. Sunrise (talk) 04:47, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
  • The move of the disambiguation page, "Cell" to "Cell (disambiguation)" should have been discussed through a WP:RM, not done unilaterally based on a talk page query added without proper notification. That said, I would agree that the biological term has the greatest long-term significance, biological cells having existed for billions of years. bd2412 T 22:40, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose why didn't you open a standard RM request for the disambiguation page move, if you wanted to gauge the primary topic? There are many many uses of "cell" and most people are not of the biology-field bent. If you like videogames, it's quite likely you might thing of the Cell processor. Then there's prison cells, for the common person. And if you're a technology person, the battery (electrochemical cell) is quite likely. Then, if you're a person with lots of friends, you might call them on your cell (mobile phone). The disambiguation page should be returned, as this is a multipart move. -- (talk) 03:39, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
    • TBH, it seemed like a straightforward application of PTOPIC based on my reading of it (under both criteria, but I focused on the more quantifiable one in my original reasoning). So I went ahead and moved the dab page then put in a WP:RM/TR for the final step. Sunrise (talk) 04:47, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
  • This discussion appears to be getting sidetracked; no one is debating that there are indeed many other uses of the word "cell" and all seem to recognise a proper RM should have been used prior to this move taking place. However, at this point we should be discussing whether this article on the biological use of cell meets WP:PRIMARYTOPIC—I'd argue that it does comfortably. benmoore 11:56, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Re-propose as a multi-page move hosted at Talk:Cell. And speedy return of Cell (disambiguation) to Cell pending that discussion, on which I wish to remain neutral for now. Red Slash 23:45, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
    • I would agree with that. I would actually have tagged Cell for speedy return of the dab page as soon as someone objected, but I didn't want to interrupt traffic to the page for however long it would take for someone to act on it. Sunrise (talk) 03:31, 10 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. A competing top association is the original meaning, a small room, which persists in Prison cell. "Cell" is ambiguous. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:46, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose—best to leave cell as a disambig page for all uses of the word, and let Cell (biology) cover the specific biological use. N2e (talk) 13:13, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Semi-protected edit request on 9 July 2014[edit]

The origin of the use of cell cites Micrographia, where the structure of cork is likened to the cells of a honeycomb, yet the text repeats the myth about cells in a monastery. There is no evidence that Hooke thought cells in cork looked like monastic cells, at the very least another source is required to justify the claim since the cited text contradicts it. Pete Kirkham (talk) 20:15, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Hi Pete, thank you for pointing this out. I have removed the text in question. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 22:46, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Predominant component of plant cell wall is cellulose.[edit]

"Different types of cell have cell walls made up of different materials; plant cell walls are primarily made up of pectin, fungi cell walls are made up of chitin and bacteria cell walls are made up of peptidoglycan"

Plant cell wall contains more cellulose than pectin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Josemv (talkcontribs) 15:28, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

This is correct and thank you for letting us know. I have gone ahead and fixed it.TypingAway (talk) 06:11, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Removal of content[edit]

The first pathway, glycolysis, requires no oxygen and is referred to as anaerobic metabolism. Each reaction produces ATP and NADH, which are used in cellular functions, as well as two pyruvate molecules that are derived from the original glucose molecule. In prokaryotes, all energy is produced by glycolysis.
The second pathway, called the Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle, is performed only by eukaryotes and involves further breakdown of the pyruvate produced in glycolysis. It occurs inside the mitochondria and generates much more energy than glycolysis, mostly through oxidative phosphorylation.

The above content I had removed, but since my removal has been reverted I will discuss here. The above lines are wrong, and can't be salvaged by simply changing some of the words:

  • Glycolysis, fermentation and anaerobic respiration are all very different things
  • The second line makes it sound like each reaction in glycolysis produces ATP and NADH, rather than all the reactions in total net them
  • Prokaryotes have hundreds, if not thousands of alternative ways to produce energy other than glycolysis
  • The Kreb's cycle is not exclusive to eukaryotes and is actually quite common in prokaryotes

Both prokaryotes and eukaryotes utilize many of the same metabolic pathways, including both utilizing glycolysis, the kreb's cycle, fermentation, aerobic and anaerobic respiration. If a discussion on their differing metabolisms is to be presented it should focus on the differing locations of where respiration occurs in prokaryotes vs. eukaryotes(in their mitochondria), as well as the greater diversity of metabolic pathways found in prokaryotes.TypingAway (talk) 06:08, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 26 June 2015[edit]

I found the sentence, "The vacuoles of eukaryotic cells are usually larger in those of plants than animals," difficult to understand without reading it several times. I suggest a simpler re-wording:

In eukaryotic cells, the vacuoles of plants are usually larger than those in animals. (talk) 18:21, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

"Eukaryotic" is actually redundant here. I changed it to "The vacuoles of plant cells or fungal cells are usually larger than those of animal cells". Thanks for pointing out the problem. Looie496 (talk) 21:12, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Proposed major overhaul[edit]

Hello there! I'm AmericanLemming, and I'm a junior at the University of Oklahoma. This semester I am taking Cell Biology, which is one of my pre-med requisites. The textbook for the course is Molecular Biology of the Cell, 6th edition. This is the most recent version of the textbook, and has seven authors who have collaborated to condense the enormous amount of literature on the subject into some 1400 pages. Anyway, the point is that it is an authoritative, up-to-date, and comprehensive source on cellular biology; it's probably the most reliable source that we could use to write this article, only equaled by other up-to-date textbooks of its ilk.

What I'm getting at is that I would like to slowly improve this article throughout my fall semester (August 24th through December 18th). The article is decent but mediocre at present; it's a glorified outline with huge swaths of uncited text and overlinking. My proposed overhaul includes the following steps, not necessarily in this order (except for the first and last steps):

  • 1. Read the article so that I become familiar with it. Copy-edit and remove duplicate links.
  • 2. Review the suggestions for improvement found on the article's talk page.
  • 3. Add references from my textbook to uncited statements in the article body.
  • 4. Possibly revamp the organization of the article if there seems to be a more logical way to do it.
  • 5. Expand the article using my textbook. It currently sits at 2,363 words; a topic this broad and important should probably have an article 6,000 to 8,000 words long, and possible up to 10,000 words long.
  • 6. Nominate the article for GA status.

One other note: I plan on using footnotes to cite my textbook, seeing as I'll reference it hundreds of times in writing the article. (See the recently promoted FA Warren G. Harding for an example of what I plan to do.) Lastly, if you any recommendations, suggestions, concerns, or ideas, please let me know below. I don't own the article, so any active editor who watch-lists this page is free to improve upon my changes. Thank you. AmericanLemming (talk) 00:11, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

@AmericanLemming: I support this idea. The page is a bit of a mess. It might be worth trading recency with open-access by referencing MBOC-4 rather than MBOC-6, since MBOC-4 is freely available online (see Gene for its extensive use in another article). Also, there are similar images by both user:LadyofHats and user:Kelvinsong. I have to say, I slightly prefer the Kelvinsong's File:Animal_Cell.svg image, but for consistency it's probably best to stick to user:LadyofHats for consistency. Some of the current images a re a bit redundant to one another (e.g. File:Endomembrane_system_diagram_no_text_nucleus.png doesn't really add anything). T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 01:43, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
Sounds like good news to me. If you're feeling energetic, the optimal solution to being accessible vs being up-to-date is probably to cite MBOC-4 whenever it's still accurate (which will be the vast majority of citations in an overview article), but to cite MBOC-6 or an open-access review article when it's not.
The See also section is also a pointer to opportunities for expansion. No mention at all of Cell culture, and only passing mention of Stem cells? Bah. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 02:20, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
I would prefer to just use the most recent edition, but I see your point about the usefulness of the open-access edition; after all, nobody is going to buy the 6th edition and double-check all the page numbers in the footnotes. Perhaps I could use the 6th edition for all footnotes and then include the page number from the fourth edition as well when the two are largely in agreement. AmericanLemming (talk) 06:33, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
I encourage you to take a shot at this, but don't be surprised if you find that expanding the article is much more difficult than you expect. The general rule is that the broader a topic, the more difficult it is to write about. If everything you know about a topic comes from a single source, it is very difficult to write about it without simply paraphrasing the material in that source, and that isn't a good way to create an article. (Strictly speaking, it is actually a copyright violation.) However improving the accuracy and sourcing of the material that exists is quite a valuable thing to do in itself. Looie496 (talk) 13:24, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
My understanding is that close paraphrasing is considered a copyright violation, not paraphrasing in general. That being said, I see how the temptation to resort to close paraphrasing could be greater when only using a single source. Anyway, I will read through the essay Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing, particularly the section How to write acceptable content. Hopefully that will help me address your concern and stay away from close paraphrasing and thus violating copyright. AmericanLemming (talk) 16:50, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
I think Looie means that closely following the structure and presentation of another work is arguably a copyvio, not that you'd have problems with closely paraphrasing individual sentences. (Though of course that's also important to avoid.) It is worth carefully considering the overall structure and flow of the article in addition to adding and citing facts (maybe you could take a look at the tables of contents of other major textbooks to get a better sense of the different ways the material might be organized). I agree that this is a big project, but this article really needs some work, so thank you. Opabinia regalis (talk) 17:49, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
This is an area that unfortunately is widely misunderstood by Wikipedia editors. Our article on paraphrasing of copyrighted material covers the issues thoroughly. As it states, "Paraphrasing of copyrighted material may reduce the probability that a court will find that copyright has been infringed; however, there have been many cases where a paraphrase that uses quite different words and sentence structure has been found to infringe on a prior work's copyright." Looie496 (talk) 14:56, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. I'm somewhat familiar with this article (having done some work on it in the past), so I'm happy to help. I think the biggest issue is the lack of coverage of important subjects, coupled with what is probably over-coverage of cellular structure. You might find the "To-do list" at the top of this talk page helpful. I also have MBOC6 and a few other textbooks to refer to if necessary. Sunrise (talk) 04:09, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
A suggestion as to how to handle referencing two MBOC versions. Most of the textbook is pretty unchanged, therefore it should be possible to use links to MBOC4 for most statements. MBOC6 should probably only be used for the few cases where they differ. The online version of MBOC4 doesn't have pages as such, so you can only point to chapter sections, although that proved entirely sufficient for the Gene page. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 12:28, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Cell biology[edit]

Additionally, just to make an already large task larger, it might be useful to simultaneously skim over the article about the discipline Cell biology and what info should go in which. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 23:29, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Indefinite postponement of major overhaul[edit]

Hello all. You may have been wondering why I haven't begun overhauling the article, or why I haven't edited the article in over a week. I'm finding that my class load is enough to keep me busy all the time; I barely have enough time to read Molecular Biology of the Cell, let alone use it to improve this article. And I hate it when editors say they're going to do something and then don't do it and don't even bother to explain why they're not doing it, so hence this post here. I bit off more than I could chew in saying I would improve this article, and I will try to keep that in mind before making any other outlandish, grandiose promises on Wikipedia in the future.

I may tweak the article some if I can find some time here and there, but I am 100% certain I will not be completely rewriting the article. I will continue making some improvements to Wikipedia over the course of the semester, but that will mainly take the form of fixing typos and working on my list of important Wikipedians by subject area, which you can find here: User:AmericanLemming/Noteworthy Wikipedians. Again, I apologize if I got any of your hopes up that somebody would finally fix up this article, and I will endeavor to "underpromise and overdeliver" in the future. AmericanLemming (talk) 06:29, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Hey, no problem, and thanks for the note. I learned long ago never to promise anything on Wikipedia. Real life is just too unpredictable. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 06:42, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

November 2015[edit]

@Iztwoz: explanations for my edits are in my edit summaries. I could also describe how we don't have nearly the strength of sources that would be necessary to support a new category of life... Sunrise (talk) 20:30, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

Apologies - hasty revert - have restored your versions. --Iztwoz (talk) 20:40, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
Thanks very much. :-) Sunrise (talk) 23:16, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

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