Protoplasm is the living contents of a cell that are surrounded by a plasma membrane.cite book |author=Cammack, Richard; Teresa Atwood; Attwood, Teresa K.; Campbell, Peter Scott; Parish, Howard I.; Smith, Tony; Vella, Frank; Stirling, John |title=Oxford dictionary of biochemistry and molecular biology |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=Oxford [Oxfordshire] |year=2006 |isbn=0-19-852917-1] This term is not commonly used in modern cell biology. Protoplasm is composed of a mixture of small molecules such as ions, amino acids, monosaccharides and water, and macromolecules such as nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and polysaccharides. In eukaryotes the protoplasm surrounding the cell nucleus is known as the cytoplasm and that inside the nucleus as the nucleoplasm. In prokaryotes the material inside the plasma membrane is the bacterial cytoplasm, while in gram-negative bacteria the region outside the plasma membrane but inside the outer membrane is the periplasm.

Protoplasm is the living substance inside the cell, and is distinct from non-living cell components lumped under "ergastic substances" or inclusion bodies, although ergastic substances can occur in the protoplasm. In many plant cells most of the volume of the cell is not occupied by protoplasm, but by "tonoplast," a large water filled vacuole enclosed by a membrane. A protoplast is a plant or fungal cell that has had its cell wall removed.

History of the term

The word "protoplasm" comes from the Greek "protos" for "first", and "plasma" for "thing formed". It was first used in 1846 by Hugo von Mohl to describe the "tough, slimy, granular, semi-fluid" substance within plant cells, to distinguish this from the cell wall, cell nucleus and the cell sap within the vacuole. [ [ Protoplasm] 1911 Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica] Thomas Huxley later referred to it as the "physical basis of life" and considered that the property of life resulted from the distribution of molecules within this substance. Its composition, however, was mysterious and there was much controversy over what sort of substance it was.citation | author = Harvey, E. N. | year = 2004 | title = Some Physical Properties of Protoplasm | journal = Journal of Applied Physics | volume = 9 | pages = 68 | doi = 10.1063/1.1710397 | url =] Unsurprisingly, attempts to investigate the origin of life through the creation of synthetic "protoplasm" in the laboratory were not successful.citation | author = Lazcano, A.; Capone, S.; Walde, P.; Seebach, D.; Ishikawa, T.; Caputo, R. | year = 2008 | title = What Is Life? A Brief Historical Overview | journal = Chemistry & Biodiversity | volume = 5 | pages = 1 | doi = 10.1002/cbdv.200890001 | url =]

The idea that protoplasm is divisible into a ground substance called "cytoplasm" and a structural body called the cell nucleus reflects the more primitive knowledge of cell structure that preceded the development of electron microscopy, when it seemed that cytoplasm was a homogeneous fluid and the existence of most sub-cellular compartments, or how cells maintain their shape, was unknown.citation | author = Satir, P. | year = 2005 | title = Tour of organelles through the electron microscope: A reprinting of Keith R. Porter's classic Harvey Lecture with a new introduction | journal = The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology | volume = 287A | pages = 1184-1204 | doi = 10.1002/ar.a.20222 | url =] Today, it is known that the cell contents are structurally very complex and contain multiple organelles.

ee also

*Chemical Evolution


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Protoplasm — Pro to*plasm, n. [Proto + Gr. ? form, fr. ? to mold.] (Biol.) The viscid and more or less granular material of vegetable and animal cells, possessed of vital properties by which the processes of nutrition, secretion, and growth go forward; the so …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • protoplasm — protoplasm. См. протоплазма. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • protoplasm — 1848, from Ger. Protoplasma (1846), used by German botanist Hugo von Mohl (1805 72), from Gk. proto first (see PROTO (Cf. proto )) + plasma something molded (see PLASMA (Cf. plasma)). The word was in Late Latin meaning first created thing, and… …   Etymology dictionary

  • protoplasm — ► NOUN Biology ▪ the material comprising the living part of a cell, including the cytoplasm, nucleus, and other organelles. DERIVATIVES protoplasmic adjective. ORIGIN Greek pr toplasma, from protos first + plasma (see PLASMA(Cf. ↑plasmic)) …   English terms dictionary

  • protoplasm — [prōt′ə plaz΄əm] n. [Ger protoplasma: see PROTO & PLASMA] a semifluid, viscous, translucent colloid, the essential living matter of all animal and plant cells: it consists largely of water, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and inorganic salts and …   English World dictionary

  • protoplasm — protoplasmic, protoplasmal, protoplasmatic /proh toh plaz mat ik/, adj. /proh teuh plaz euhm/, n. 1. Biol. (no longer in technical use) the colloidal and liquid substance of which cells are formed, excluding horny, chitinous, and other structural …   Universalium

  • PROTOPLASM —    a name given to presumed living matter forming the physical bases of all forms of animal and vegetable life; the term is now superseded by the term bioplasm. See DR. STIRLING, AS REGARDS PROTOPLASM …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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  • protoplasm — noun Etymology: German Protoplasma, from prot + New Latin plasma Date: 1848 1. the organized colloidal complex of organic and inorganic substances (as proteins and water) that constitutes the living nucleus, cytoplasm, plastids, and mitochondria… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • protoplasm — n. [Gr. protos, first; plasma, formed or molded] Matter by which the phenomena of life are manifested …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

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