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What structural and functional attributes must a cell have to be called a living cell?

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Structural and functional attributes that a cell must have to be called a living cell are:

  • Plasma Membrane: A cell should have a plasma membrane because, without it, there will be no container to hold the contents of the cell, and cells will not have any independent existence.

Functional Attributes of Plasma Membrane: The plasma membrane should not be fully permeable or impermeable; rather, it should be selectively permeable to allow the exchange of important materials between the cell and its environment.

  • Protoplasm: Protoplasm is the living material in a cell which contains all other important organelles of a cell which is required for life to continue. If protoplasm dries up, the cell becomes dead just like the sclerenchyma cells.
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum: Endoplasmic reticulum is the main site of protein and lipid synthesis and secretion. Without the endoplasmic reticulum, cells will not get the required material for its development and will die.


Mitochondria are not mandatory organelles for all living cells like Red Blood Cells do not contain mitochondria; still they are living cells. In the same way, prokaryotes also do not have mitochondria still they are living cells.

The nucleus is also not a mandatory requirement for all living cells. Prokaryotic cells do not have a nucleus.

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