|MadSci Network: Cell Biology|
Scientists are able to mix cells of different types through a process known as cell fusion. All cells are surronded by membranes, which can fuse together and then the contents of the cells mix. The new cell produced is called a hybrid cell. Because plant cells have a cell wall, cell fusion can not take place unless this is removed. This can be done by adding enzymes which degrade the cell wall, but will leave the membrane intact. A plant cell without a cell wall is called a protoplast. Here is a picture: Then if the plant protoplasts and animal cells and mixed under the right conditions, usually an electric current is needed, the two cells will fuse and there contents will mix. However, the rate at which this will occur is very low, with maybe only 2 cells out of 100 fusing to create 1 hybrid cell. The use of cell fusion is most often used between plant protoplasts of different species. I have done this and like the plant and animal cells, the rate od fusion is very low. Here is a picture of two cell's fusing: As far as I know this would be the only way to "mix" plant and animal cells.
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