A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V X Y Z
Abaxial: surface of the plant leaves that do not face the Sun. In many plant species, this surface contains most of the stomata.
Abscission: aging process and shedding of leaves, fruits and flowers. In general, it is mediated by hormones such as cytokines and ethylene.
Abcisic acid: it is a plant hormone (phytohormone) mainly synthesized in roots and mature leaves after a period of hydric stress. It is also abundant in seeds, either because it is coming from other plant organs or because it is synthesized by seeds themselves. Abscisic acid is transported from roots and leaves by vascular bundles.
Acinar gland: it is a type of exocrine gland with secretory units organized in acini, which are bag-like structures with thick walls and very little inner empty space.
Adaxial: (in leaves) it is the surface of a leaf that faces the Sun. Sepals and petals of flowers also show an adaxial surface, usually toward the interior of the flower.
Adipocyte: it is the main cell type of adipose tissue. It functions as an energy storage by accumulating large amount of fatty acids. Adipocytes are round and big, depending on how much fat they storage. There are two main types of adipocytes: unilocular and multilocular. Unilocular adipocytes form the white fat, while multilocular adipocytes form the brown fat. Unilocular adipocytes contain a single large lipid droplet mainly composed of triacylglycerols that occupies most of the cytoplasm. The nucleus and remaining organelles are confined in a thin layer of cytoplasm near the plasma membrane. Multilocular adipocytes contain many small lipid droplets scattered in the cytoplasm and many mitochondria. In brown fat, mitochondria produce heat instead of ATP, and contribute to the brownish color of the brown fat.
Adipose tissue: it is a type of connective tissue specialized in storing lipids as an energy source. Adipose tissue shows very little extracellular matrix and the characteristic cell is the adipocyte. There are two types of adipocytes: white and brown adipocytes. White adipocytes contain a very large lipid droplet that stores lipids to supply energy to the body metabolism. Brown adipocytes contain many small droplets of lipids used to increase the body temperature.
Adrenal gland: it is a type of endocrine gland found onto the upper surface of the mammalian kidneys. Adrenal gland is made up of several regions organized from the periphery to the inner part, each to them releasing different types of hormones: mineralocorticoids by the zona glomerulosa, glucocorticoids by the zona fasciulata, androgens by the zona reticulata and catecholamines by the medulla.
Adventitia: it is the outer layer of connective tissue that lines many animal organs.
Adventitious root: (in plants) it is a root that emerges from organs like stems and leaves, but not from other root.
Aerenchyma: see aeriferous parenchyma.
Aeriferous parenchyma: (in plants) it is a type of parenchymatic tissue with many and large extracellular spaces that allow the conduction of gases along the tissue. Aeriferous parenchyma is found in roots, stems and leaves of plants living in aquatic or flooded environments. The empty extracellular spaces keep cells with proper levels of oxygen in those poorly oxygenated environments. Aeriferous parenchyma is also known as aerenchyma.
Agranular leukocyte: it is a type of leukocyte found in the blood characterized by the lack of cytoplasmic granules with affinity for common dyes. There are two types of agranular leukocytes: lymphocytes and monocytes.
Afferent nerve: it is a nerve that brings information to neurons (or muscles) of a region from neurons located in another region. For instance, some nerves of the peripheral nervous system bring information to the encephalon or spinal cord from other parts of the body.
Albuminous cell: it is a type of parenchymatic cell found in gymnosperm plants. Albuminous cells are companion cells morphologically and physiologically associated to sieve cells of the phloem by lateral pore fields.
Albuminous seed: see endospermic seed.
Endospermic seed: (in plants)(or albuminous seed) it is a type of seed that keeps endosperm in the later stages of maturation. Those seeds that consume the endosperm during maturation are known as exalbuminous seeds or non-endospermic seeds.
Aleurone: see aleurone grains.
Aleurone grain: it is a type of protein depot found in the endosperm of seed in some plant species.
Alpha cell: it is a type of cell found in the Langerhans islets of the pancreas. Alpha cells release glucagon, which is a hormone that increases the levels of glucose in the blood.
Alveolus: it is a cavity or hollow surrounded by cells. Each of the hemispherical pit at the end of some ducts, like in some glands.
Ampullary crest: it is a projection or ridge of the epithelium of the semicircular canals in the inner ear. Ampullary crests form the sensory structures called ampullae. There are cells among the epithelial cells of the ampullary crests for detecting the movements of the endolymph. These movements are produced by the head movements. The information that sensory cells send to the brain helps keep the body balance.
Amyelinic nerve: it is the axon not wrapped in a myelin sheath.
Angular collenchyma: it is a type of collenchyma with cells showing thickenings in their primary cell walls at the angles between adjoining cells. Angular collenchyma cells are densely packaged and there are not intercellular spaces. Angular collenchyma is usually found beneath the epidermis, forming a layer of cells sometimes referred as hypodermis.
Annular collenchyma: it is type of collenchyma tissue. Annular collenchyma cells have primary cell walls showing even thickness.
Anther: it is the part of the stamen of the flowers where microspores or male gametes are produced. Anther may be divided in two compartments called thecae. Each techae contains two microsporangia or polinic sacs.
Anticlinal: (in plants) it is a type of cell division where the new cell wall that separates the two new cells is perpendicular to the surface of the organ, usually a stem or a root. It can be radial when the new wall is parallel to the long axis of the organ or transversal when it is perpendicular to the long axis of the organ.
Anticlinal division: (in plants) it is a type of cell division where the new cell wall that separates the two new cells is perpendicular to the surface of the organ, usually a stem or a root. Anticlinal division may be radial when the new wall is parallel to the long axis of the organ or transversal when it is perpendicular to the long axis of the organ. The transverse anticlinal division allows the growth in length of the plant body, therefore its primary growth. The radial anticlinal division allows the growth in diameter (thickness) of the plant organ, therefore its secondary growth.
Aorta: one of the main arteries that emerges from heart and branches many times to form the system circuit, which drives blood to most parts of the body.
Apical: (in animas) it is the free domain of a cell, that facing a cavity or the exterior of the body. For example, epithelial cells have an apical domain in contact with the exterior of the body, the interior of the digestive duct, the interior of the blood vessels, the lumen of glandular secretory units and excretory ducts. Cells having an apical and a basolateral domain are called polarized cells because each domain performs different functions.
Apical: (in plants) those structures found at the ends of stems and roots.
Apical dominance: it is the inhibition of the growth of the lateral branches of a plant caused by the apical part of the main shoot. This inhibition is produced by the auxin hormone, released by the apical part of the shoot. In this way, lateral branches grow when they get far from the main apical shoot, as the main shoot grows in lengths.
Apical meristem: it is a type of meristem found in the tips of shoots and roots. The apical meristem activity results in primary growth, which is mostly a growing in length. Epidermis, ground tissue and procambium differentiate from the apical meristem. Endodermis and pericicle develop from the apical meristem in roots, and the axillary buds in stems.
Apocrine secretion: it is a type of secretion where cell membrane breaks and part of the apical cytoplasm is released.
Apoplast: (or apoplast communication) it is the space ouside de cells of plant tissues where molecules can diffuse. The apoplastic pathway is traveled by molecules that move through the intercellular spaces in plant tissues.
Aqueous humor: it is the liquid that fills the anterior chamber of the eye.
Aquiferous parenchyma: (in plants) it is a type of parenchymatic tissue characteristic in plants living in dry environments. These plants are known as xerophytes. Aquiferous parenchyma cells are specialized in storing water. They show a thin primary cell wall and very large vacuole that stores the water. In the cytoplasm, or inside the vacuole, there is a substance known as mucilage that increases the capacity to absorb and retain water.
Areolar connective tissue: See smooth connective tissue.
Artery: it is a type of vessel that drive blood from the heart to other organs. The artery wall is generally thick to counteract the blood pressure caused by the heart bits. Arteries are usually classified according to their size: large or elastic arteries, medium size or muscular arteries, and small or arterioles. They are made up of three tunics: the innermost tunica intima, tunica media and the external tunica adventitia.
Arteriole: it is a small diameter artery. Arterioles have one or two layers of smooth muscle cells and a diameter of about 30 µm. They control the blood flux toward the capillary network by the activity of the smooth muscles of the tunica media. Their wall is slightly contracted, so they can increase and decrease the diameter, and therefore the volume of the blood going through. Actually, arterioles are the main regulators of blood pressure. The histological organization of the arteriole wall is similar to the larger arteries. Thus, it has a tunica intima, a tunica media and a tunica adventitia.
Auditory system: it is a set of structures that senses, transmits and transforms the sound waves into electrical impulses. The auditory system consists in three compartments: outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.
Auricular pavilion: it is what we know as ear or pinna. The auricular pavilion is the outer part of the auditory system.
Axilary bud: (in plants) it is a structure found at the nodes of the stem and the insertion point of leaves that gives rise to branches.
Axon: it is a thin process that outgrows from a neuronal soma or from a primary dendrite. It transmits the electrical information generated in the soma to other cells: neurons or muscle cells. Axons are usually highly branched. Each branch is known as axon collateral, and the whole collaterals of an axon are called axonal tree. Along the thin axonal collaterals and in their tips, there are small swellings that work as presynaptic elements. Neurotransmitters are released from presynaptic elements to excite or inhibit the postsynaptic cell.
Axonomorph root: (in plants) it is a type of root system in which new roots may emerge from other roots by a branching process.