What is the Difference Between Cytology and Cell Biology

The main difference between cytology and cell biology is that the cytology is the formal term for cell biology, which is the study of the structure, function, and  life history of cells and their constituents. Furthermore, cytology mainly deals with animal and plant cells while cell biology deals with all eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells.

Cytology and cell biology are two study areas of biology that mainly deal with the structure and the function of cells.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Cytology
     – Definition, Concept, Related Areas
2. What is Cell Biology
     – Definition, Concept, Relate Areas
3. What are the Similarities Between Cytology and Cell Biology
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Cytology and Cell Biology
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Cell Biology, Cytology, Multicellular Organisms, Structure and the Function of Cells, Unicellular Organisms

Difference Between Cytology and Cell Biology - Comparison Summary

What is Cytology

Cytology is the scientific as well as the medical study of the structure and the function of plant and animal cells. The cell is the structural and functional unit of a particular organism, which is microscopic. It contains a cytoplasm embedded with organelles and enclosed by a cell membrane. Due to its applications in the medical field, cytology closely relates to pathology.

What is the Difference Between Cytology and Cell Biology_Figure 1

Figure 1: Small Cell Lung Cancer Specimen

For the purpose of study, we can carry out cytological examinations on various body fluids including the blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, etc. As the samples, we can also use the materials aspirated from the body. For cytological evaluations, we examine these samples under the microscope.

What is Cell Biology

Cell biology is the branch of biology which studies the structure, constituents, physiological features, function, interactions, life cycle, division, and death of cells. Also, it includes the study simple organisms like prokaryotes and more complex organisms like eukaryotes. Furthermore, it also includes both unicellular organisms such as protozoa and bacteria and multicellular organisms such as plants and animal including humans. Besides, the constituents of a typical cell include cell membrane, cell wall, cytoplasm, nucleus, mitochondria, chloroplasts, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, lysosomes, vesicles, flagella, and cilia.

What is the Difference Between Cytology and Cell Biology_Figure 2

Figure 2: Structure of a Typical Cell

Cell biology came into prominence with the Zacharias Janssen’s discovery of the microscope in 1950. The study of cell constituents became possible with the invention of the electron microscopy. Since cell biology studies the basic unit of life, it always links closely with the other branches of biology including genetics, molecular biology, developmental biology, anatomy, biochemistry, etc.

Similarities Between Cytology and Cell Biology

  • Both, cytology and cell biology, involve in the study of the structure and the function of the cells.
  • Also, both fields involve various microscopic techniques in the examination of cells.

Difference Between Cytology and Cell Biology

Definition

Cytology refers to a branch of biology and medicine concerned with the structure and function of plant and animal cells while cell biology refers to a branch of biology dealing with structure, function, and life history of cells and their constituents. Thus, this is the basic difference between cytology and cell biology.

Significance

Cytology is the formal term for cell biology while cell biology is the more general term.

Type of Cells Studied

An important difference between cytology and cell biology is that the cytology studies only the animal and plant cells whereas, the cell biology studies both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells as well.

Related to

Cytology is related to medicine and pathology while cell biology is related to the various areas of biology including genetics, molecular biology, developmental biology, anatomy, biochemistry, etc.

Conclusion

Cytology is a field of biology involved in the study of the structure and the function of animal and plant cells. Whereas, cell biology is a wider area than cytology since it studies the structure and the function of all types of cells including eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Cell biology relates to a number of other study areas of biology as well. Thus, the main difference between cytology and cell biology is their concept.

Reference:

1. Silva, Inês da. “Cell Biology (Cytology).” Knoow, Available Here
2. “Definition of Cytology.” MedicineNet, 13 May 2016, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Small cell lung cancer – cytology” By Nephron – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia  
2. “Illu cell structure” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia  

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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