Cell Envelope and its Modifications in Prokaryotic Cells - QS Study
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Most prokaryotic cells, particularly the bacterial cells, have a chemically complex cell envelope. The cell envelope consists of a tightly bound three layered structure i.e. the outermost glycocalyx followed by the cell wall and then the plasma membrane. Although each layer of the envelope performs distinct function, they act together as a single protective unit. Bacteria can be classified into two groups on the basis of the differences in the cell envelopes and the manner in which they respond to the staining procedure developed by Gram viz., those that take up the gram stain are Gram positive and the others that do not are called Gram negative bacteria.


Glycocalyx differs in composition and thickness among different bacteria. It could be a loose sheath called the slime layer in some, while in others it may be thick and tough, called the capsule. The cell wall determines the shape of the cell and provides a strong structural support to prevent the bacterium from bursting or collapsing. The plasma membrane is semi permeable in nature and interacts with the outside world. This membrane is similar structurally to that of the eukaryotes.