Q:

How has the red blood cell adapted?

A:

Quick Answer

Two adaptations that have been made by the red blood cell are the lack of a nucleus and organelles, or small, specialized bodies in the cell. This allows for more room in the blood cell for hemoglobin.

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Full Answer

Hemoglobin is a molecule that bonds with oxygen and delivers it to the cells. Hemoglobin also gives red blood cells their red color. The development of a cell specialized in carrying oxygen throughout the body allows oxygen to be utilized more efficiently by an organism.

Red blood cells don't use the oxygen they carry because they lack organelles, such as mitochondria. Because they have no nuclei, they have no DNA or RNA and can't divide or repair themselves well. They live about 100 days before they are destroyed.

Other adaptations of red blood cells are their donut shape and flexibility. These adaptations allow them to squeeze through tiny capillaries.

Red blood cells also release adenosine triphosphate, or ATP when they find themselves in very narrow blood vessels. ATP causes the vessels to open up. Red blood cells also produce hydrogen sulfide, which signals the blood vessels to relax.

When the body is invaded by a pathogen, red blood cells attack it with free-radical molecules, which destroy the pathogen's cell walls.

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Related Questions

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    Why are red blood cells biconcave?

    A:

    According to Santa Barbara City College, red blood cells' biconcave shape gives them a vastly greater surface area than a spherical cell of similar volume, which allows them to absorb oxygen more efficiently. Red blood cells achieve this shape by losing their nucleus and many other organelles during development. Red blood cells can neither reproduce nor replenish cellular machinery, and they die off in large numbers over time.

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    Why do red blood cells have no nucleus?

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    Red blood cells have no nucleus, because most of their bulk is made up of hemoglobin, a compound that carries gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. In fact, about a third of a red blood cell is dedicated to hemoglobin alone, so no room remains for a nucleus or many of the structures that other cells have.

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    How long do red blood cells live?

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    A normal red blood cell lives for about 120 days. It takes about two days for the body to manufacture each red blood cell, and about two million are turned out every second. Production of new red blood cells occurs in the bone marrow.

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    Do red blood cells have nuclei?

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    Mature red blood cells do not contain nuclei. However, red blood cells that are not fully formed and not fully matured do contain nuclei for a brief period of time during their development.

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