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Connect Key Features and Functions of Cell Specialisation

In this worksheet, students will demonstrate their knowledge of specialised animal and plant cells and their functions.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Living things or organisms are made up of cells. Some organisms may be made up of just a single cell (unicellular), like bacteria, whereas others are made up of many cells, like a plant. Some cells have particular jobs they need to carry out and are called specialised cells. We will be looking into this more closely below:

 

SPERM CELL - The job or function of the sperm cell is to fertilise an egg cell. The head of the sperm cell, called the acrosome, contains enzymes which help the sperm cell to break down the outer membrane of the egg cell, and then penetrate the egg cell. Once it penetrates the egg, the genetic material in the haploid sperm cell can combine with the genetic material of the haploid egg cell. This is known as fertilisation. Eggciting stuff!

 

The sperm cell is also suited to its job by having a tail to allow it to swim towards the egg. It uses the energy provided by the mitochondria to power the tail.

Picture of a sperm cell

 

 

NERVE CELL/NEURONE - One of its features is a structure that looks like a tail, called the axon.  This can be really long! The axon allows nerve impulses to travel all across the body at lightning fast speed, and for nerve impulses to be passed along to other cells. It's covered in a blanket of fatty cells called the myelin sheath. This helps to protect the nerve cell from damage and helps speed up the transmission of nerve impulses.

 

Nerve cells also contain dendrons. Dendrons are branches (that further divide into dendrites) which receive nerve impulses from other nerve cells.

Picture of a nerve cell

 

 

MUSCLE CELLS - These are made up of protein filaments and are arranged in bundles, which means that the muscle can contract or shorten.  There are three main types: skeletal, cardiac and smooth. Skeletal muscles are connected to our bones, which allows us to move. We have control over our skeletal muscles. Cardiac muscle cells, which make up the heart, contract rhythmically, allowing the heart to pump blood around the body. These muscles contract automatically. Smooth muscle cells are usually found lining our organs and can help with contracting, for example, your bladder. Smooth muscles also contract automatically. Muscles contain mitochondria, allowing energy from respiration for muscle contraction.

 

Picture of muscle types

 

 

 

What about plants? Yes, plants have specialised cells too! 

 

ROOT HAIR CELLS - are tiny projections on the actual roots of the plant. They give the roots a bigger surface area, which allows more water to be in contact with the root hair cell and means more water can be absorbed. The thin walls of the roots mean that water and nutrients can pass into the plant very quickly.

Picture of a root hair cell

 

XYLEM AND PHLOEM CELLS - Xylem cells transport water in one direction (from the root to the leaves) and are made of a thick hardened non-living structure called lignin (in trees this is the woody part). The lignin helps to keep the plant upright and supported. Phloem cells transport glucose and other substances, like amino acids, up and down the plant to where they are needed (this is called translocation). The mitochondria in the companion cells next to the phloem cells provide the energy needed for the movement of substances around the plant.

 

Picture of leaf anatomy showing xylem and phloem tissue

 

In the following activity, you will be asked to apply and demonstrate your knowledge of the different specialised cells and how their adaptations help them to carry out their job.

Specialised cells are cells with a specific function or role.

 

Picture of a sperm cell

 

The function of a sperm cell is to fertilise an egg cell. What part of the sperm cell is essential for fertilisation? Choose one answer.

Nucleus

Tail

Enzymes

Picture of a sperm cell

Describe how mitochondria, the long tail of the sperm cell, and the acrosome help the sperm cell to do its job. Select three answers.

Moving the tail makes the sperm cell stronger

The tail allows the sperm cell to swim towards the egg cell

The mitochondria gives the sperm cell nutrition for movement

The acrosome contains enzymes that breaks down the outer membrane of the egg

The acrosome provides energy for movement

The mitochondria provides energy for movement

Cells have an important role in the human body. One type of cell is involved in transmitting impulses around the body. 

 

State which type of cell transmits impulses. Choose one answer.

Sperm cell

Muscle cell

Nerve cell

Sarah is a teacher and has recently been diagnosed with repetitive strain injury (RSI) in her wrists and hands. Repetitive strain injury is used to describe pain felt in muscles and nerves caused by repetitive movement. 

 

The doctors said that there is pressure on a nerve in her wrist causing the pain. Sarah believes that the amount of homework she's been marking has caused RSI.

 

What is the link between homework and repetitive strain injury? Select one answer.

Marking homework means teachers will be in pain

Sarah is holding a pen in a certain way when marking homework, causing pressure on nerves in her wrist firing nerve impulses that register as pain

Sarah is holding a pen in a certain way when marking homework, causing pressure on her bones

The dendrites, axon and myelin sheath all help the nerve cell to transmit nerve impulses across the body.

 

How do the dendrites, axon and myelin sheath help with nerve transmission? Choose the structures and their correct descriptions.

Column A

Column B

Myelin sheath
Fatty covering to protect the nerve and allow spee...
Axon
Tiny branches to receive nerve impulses from other...
Dendrites
Long structure to allow nerve transmission around ...

There are three types of muscle cells, as shown in the picture below. The stomach contains smooth muscle.

 

Why do you think the stomach needs smooth muscle cells? Select two answers. 

 

Picture of muscle cell types

To enable the protein filaments in stomach muscles to contract

To allow the stomach to churn and mix food

To make the stomach strong

All organs need muscle cells

Picture of a root hair cell

Root hair cells have an important job to do - they allow water and minerals to be absorbed from the soil.

 

How does the root hair cell allow water and minerals to be absorbed? Select two features.

Thin walls for water and mineral ions to pass through

Thick walls for water and mineral ions to pass through

Small surface area to take up less space

Large surface area to allow more contact with water molecules and ions

Xylem cells are specialised cells found in plants. They are needed to transport water around plants.

 

Which structure absorbs water and what process is it used for? Select one answer.

Water is absorbed by the roots to be used for photosynthesis

Water is absorbed by the leaves for transpiration

Water is absorbed by the phloem for transpiration

Water is absorbed by the stem for photosynthesis

During photosynthesis, glucose and oxygen are made. Glucose is needed around the plant for many different processes.

 

What is the name of the cell that transports glucose and in which direction do the cells transport it?

The cell is called phloem, and glucose is transported up and down the plant

The cell is called phloem, and glucose is transported in only one direction

The cell is called xylem, and glucose is transported in one direction

Compare the structure and function of xylem and phloem cells. Select one answer in each row.

  • Question 1

Specialised cells are cells with a specific function or role.

 

Picture of a sperm cell

 

The function of a sperm cell is to fertilise an egg cell. What part of the sperm cell is essential for fertilisation? Choose one answer.

CORRECT ANSWER
Nucleus
EDDIE SAYS
Fertilisation is when the sperm cell's genetic material combines with the egg cell's genetic material. The genetic material is found in the nucleus of the sperm cell and is haploid, which means it contains half the full set of chromosomes. When this happens, a zygote is formed, which will eventually grow to be a fetus.
  • Question 2

Picture of a sperm cell

Describe how mitochondria, the long tail of the sperm cell, and the acrosome help the sperm cell to do its job. Select three answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
The tail allows the sperm cell to swim towards the egg cell
The acrosome contains enzymes that breaks down the outer membrane of the egg
The mitochondria provides energy for movement
EDDIE SAYS
Mitochondria releases energy during respiration. This energy is used to move the sperm's tail, so that it can swim towards the egg. The acrosome also helps by using its enzymes to break down the outer membrane of the egg. The sperm cell can now enter the egg cell and fertilisation can happen.
  • Question 3

Cells have an important role in the human body. One type of cell is involved in transmitting impulses around the body. 

 

State which type of cell transmits impulses. Choose one answer.

CORRECT ANSWER
Nerve cell
EDDIE SAYS
Good start! The job of a nerve cell is to transmit or carry information via nerve impulses to different parts of the body. So for example, if you touch a mug of hot chocolate, a nerve impulse will be sent from your fingers to your brain telling you it's hot, then back to your fingers/hand to put the mug down before you burn yourself.
  • Question 4

Sarah is a teacher and has recently been diagnosed with repetitive strain injury (RSI) in her wrists and hands. Repetitive strain injury is used to describe pain felt in muscles and nerves caused by repetitive movement. 

 

The doctors said that there is pressure on a nerve in her wrist causing the pain. Sarah believes that the amount of homework she's been marking has caused RSI.

 

What is the link between homework and repetitive strain injury? Select one answer.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sarah is holding a pen in a certain way when marking homework, causing pressure on nerves in her wrist firing nerve impulses that register as pain
EDDIE SAYS
Is this getting easier? Nerves may get strained from a repetitive movement, which may lead to damage over time. This might cause nerve impulses to fire uncontrollably when moving that particular part of the body, causing a lot of pain.
  • Question 5

The dendrites, axon and myelin sheath all help the nerve cell to transmit nerve impulses across the body.

 

How do the dendrites, axon and myelin sheath help with nerve transmission? Choose the structures and their correct descriptions.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Myelin sheath
Fatty covering to protect the ner...
Axon
Long structure to allow nerve tra...
Dendrites
Tiny branches to receive nerve im...
EDDIE SAYS
The dendrites are branches that receive impulses from other nerve cells. These will then travel down the axon, which is surrounded by the fatty sheath. The myelin sheath of a nerve cell is really important, as it offers protection, but mainly as it helps the nerve impulses to travel super fast. With the axon being long, nerves can travel around the body easily (often in exams they will be drawn as the longer looking structures).
  • Question 6

There are three types of muscle cells, as shown in the picture below. The stomach contains smooth muscle.

 

Why do you think the stomach needs smooth muscle cells? Select two answers. 

 

Picture of muscle cell types

CORRECT ANSWER
To enable the protein filaments in stomach muscles to contract
To allow the stomach to churn and mix food
EDDIE SAYS
The protein filaments that make up our muscles in our stomach can slide over each other and contract. By contracting, they allow our stomach to churn up and mix the food we've eaten, which helps with digestion.
  • Question 7

Picture of a root hair cell

Root hair cells have an important job to do - they allow water and minerals to be absorbed from the soil.

 

How does the root hair cell allow water and minerals to be absorbed? Select two features.

CORRECT ANSWER
Thin walls for water and mineral ions to pass through
Large surface area to allow more contact with water molecules and ions
EDDIE SAYS
Don't worry if you found that tricky! Root hair cells have thin walls, which allow water and mineral ions to pass through really easily and quickly. The tiny projections of the root hair cell increase the surface area, allowing more water to be in contact with the cell. This means more water and minerals, which are needed for the process of photosynthesis, can pass into the root hair cell.
  • Question 8

Xylem cells are specialised cells found in plants. They are needed to transport water around plants.

 

Which structure absorbs water and what process is it used for? Select one answer.

CORRECT ANSWER
Water is absorbed by the roots to be used for photosynthesis
EDDIE SAYS
Water is essential for plants - they need it to photosynthesise, and so plants have their own network of xylem vessels. The xylem will transport water from the plant's roots to its leaves.
  • Question 9

During photosynthesis, glucose and oxygen are made. Glucose is needed around the plant for many different processes.

 

What is the name of the cell that transports glucose and in which direction do the cells transport it?

CORRECT ANSWER
The cell is called phloem, and glucose is transported up and down the plant
EDDIE SAYS
This was a tricky one! Phloem cells transport food or glucose up and down the stem (this is called translocation). The glucose is needed for respiration, growth and storage.
  • Question 10

Compare the structure and function of xylem and phloem cells. Select one answer in each row.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
To help you remember the function of phloem cells, try to memorise the function of xylem cells, as it's almost the opposite. So, xylem transports water, phloem transports food. Xylem is one direction, phloem is both. Xylem is made of dead cells, whereas phloem is made of living cells. Well done, that's another activity completed!
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