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Smallest unit that shows the properties of life

The cell is the smallest unit that shows the properties of life. They vary dramatically in shape and function, though all cells do share certain features, which include a selectively permeable plasma membrane, a fluid-filled cytoplasm, and organelles. While all cells contain these features, they vary depending on the environment that they live in. In order to help you have a better understanding of cellular components, your task is to design a cell that is optimized to live in a particular environment.

Please choose one of the four environments listed below and design a cell that has homeostatic mechanisms and structures to survive in that particular environment. Specifically, I would like you to discuss the general characteristics (size, shape), organelles it contains and the membrane properties for this theoretical cell. Your readings should help in providing some general information but I highly encourage you to research actual cells from species with specific mechanisms that have enabled them to adapt to such environments (keep in mind that it will mostly be bacteria that are capable of living in extreme environments).

The environments:
1) Aqueous, high salinity/salt, pH 9 (very basic), 5 atmospheres of pressure
2) Frigid (-15 C), high levels of methane, salt and sugars
3) Very low oxygen levels, pH 2 (very acidic), extremely dry, high levels of ionizing radiation
4) Very hot (100 C), high levels of carbon dioxide, very high levels of heavy metals, nutritionally limited (few external resources)



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