Domains of Life; Prokaryotic vs. Eukaryotic Cells

ID #1598

Does the compartmentalization that occur in Eukaryotic cells allow the cell to be generally larger than prokaryotic cells? And if so, for what reasons does having organelles allow a cell to be larger?

This is something of a "chicken and egg" situation. Is a eukaryotic cell larger because it's compartmentalized? Or is it compartmentalized because it's larger? The answer to both questions is probably yes. Larger cells can support more chemical reactions, making them more complex. But this complexity would be unmanageable if all the reactions were happening in exactly the same place. At some level, there wouldn't even be an advantage to being a cell. Also, as we'll see later in the semester, some of the reactions required to sustain this complexity require a different set of conditions than others. Compartmentalization allows sets of reactions to be separated from each other with respect to chemistry, space, and time.

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