Cell theory is the basic foundation on which our understanding of cells is built.

The discovery of cell theory over time

Robert Hooke - 1665

  • cork cells
  • “tiny boxes”

Anton van Leeuwenhoek - 1673

  • “Animacules”, later called bacteria

Robert Brown - 1833

  • Discovered the nucleus in plant cells

Matthias Schleiden - 1838

  • Every plant is made of cells

Theodor Schwann - 1839

  • Every animal is made of cells

Albrecht von Roelliker - 1840

  • Sperm + Egg are cells - life comes from cells.

Carl Heinrich Braun - 1845

  • Reworks theory, names cells “the basic unit of life”

Rudolf Virchow - 1855

  • Cells come from other cells

Modern cell theory

  • The cell contains hereditary information (DNA) which is passed on from cell to cell during division.
  • All cells are basically the same in terms of chemical composition and metabolic activities.
  • All basic chemical and physiological functions are carried out inside cells. (Movement, digestion etc)
  • Cell activity depends on the activities of sub-cellular structures within the cell (organelles, nucleus, plasma membrane etc etc)

Cells