Introduction to Stem Cells

Stem cells are a special type of cell found in multicellular organisms. The study of stem cells is currently one of the most active areas of research in biology.

Stem cells are unspecialised cells which have two key abilities:

  • They can undergo cell division to produce more stem cells.
  • They can differentiate to become specialised cells
At the top left of the diagram is a drawing of a stem cell, labelled "Stem Cell (Unspecialised)". There is an arrow from the stem cell pointing to the right to a drawing of a nerve cell, labelled "Specialised Cell". This arrow is labelled "Differentiation". There is also an arrow pointing downwards from the stem cell. This arrow is labelled "Cell Division". This downwards arrow splits in two and each arrow head points to a drawing of a stem cell. These two stem cells are labelled "Stem Cells (Unspecialised)".

Stem cells are unspecialised cells that can divide to form more stem cells and can differentiate to become specialised cells.

Stem cells work differently in animals and plants. On the next page we will learn about animal stem cells. Then on the page after that we will learn about plant stem cells.


Flashcards help you memorise information quickly. Copy each question onto its own flashcard and then write the answer on the other side. Testing yourself on these regularly will enable you to learn much more quickly than just reading and making notes.


What are stem cells?


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