Cellular Basics

Structures Inside Cells

What is the major function of a cell’s nucleus?

In 1831, the Scottish botanist Robert Brown (1773–1858) first named and described the small structure in a cell while studying orchids. Brown called this structure the nucleus, from the Latin word nucula, meaning “little nut,” “kernel,” or “core.” Today scientists know the nucleus is the information center of the cell; it is also the storehouse of the genetic information (deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA) that directs all of the activities of a living eukaryotic cell. It is usually the largest organelle in a eukaryotic cell and contains the chromosomes. (For more information about organelles, see this chapter; for more about chromosomes, see the chapter “DNA, RNA, Chromosomes, and Genes.”)


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