Which of the Following Best Describes the Modern Cell Theory?


Vincent White

The modern cell theory is a fundamental concept in the field of biology that describes the basic unit of life. It states that all living organisms are composed of one or more cells, and that the cell is the fundamental unit of structure, function, and organization in all living things.

The Three Tenets of Modern Cell Theory

There are three main tenets of modern cell theory:

1. All Living Organisms are Composed of Cells

This means that every living thing, from the tiniest bacterium to the largest elephant, is made up of one or more cells. Cells can be unicellular (consisting of only one cell) or multicellular (consisting of many cells).

2. The Cell is the Basic Unit of Life

The cell is the smallest unit that can perform all the functions necessary for life. This includes taking in nutrients, converting those nutrients into energy, and carrying out all other metabolic processes.

3. All Cells Come from Pre-Existing Cells

This tenet states that cells do not arise spontaneously, but rather come from pre-existing cells through a process called cell division. This process ensures that genetic information is passed down from parent cells to daughter cells.

The Origins of Modern Cell Theory

Modern cell theory has its roots in the work of several scientists over several centuries. In 1665, Robert Hooke published Micrographia, which included detailed illustrations of cork cells under a microscope. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek followed this up by observing and describing microorganisms such as bacteria and protozoa.

In 1838, Matthias Schleiden studied plant tissues and concluded that all plants were composed of cells. The following year, Theodor Schwann made a similar observation about animal tissues and extended this idea to all animals.

Rudolf Virchow later added the third tenet of modern cell theory in 1855. He observed that cells only arise from pre-existing cells, and that this process is essential for growth, development, and repair.


In summary, modern cell theory is a fundamental concept in biology that describes the basic unit of life.

The three tenets of modern cell theory are all living organisms are composed of cells, the cell is the basic unit of life, and all cells come from pre-existing cells. These tenets have been developed over several centuries by numerous scientists who have contributed to our understanding of biology.