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Somatic Cells

Last updated date: 24th Feb 2024
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A somatic cell is also called a vegetal cell. All the cells of the body except the reproductive ones are somatic cells. Other than the gametes the stem cells, germs cells, and all the other cells of a multicellular organism are known as somatic cells. Diploid somatic cells undergo mitosis and are responsible for growth, repair, and regeneration.

Let us learn more about somatic cells, somatic meaning, somatic cell definition, and examples of somatic cells.

What is Somatic?

Somatic cell meaning is as follows, terms originate from the word ‘Soma’, which means ‘body’. They develop the entire organism other than cells, that have a capability of reproductive function or are undifferentiated, e.g. stem cells.

The cell that helps in the composition of the body of a particular organism and the binary fission and mitotic division helps in the division of these cells, such types of cells are called somatic cells. The internal organs are skin, bones, blood, and connective tissue. Where the mammalian germ cell example: spermatozoa and the ova that undergo fertilization to produce a new cell called a zygote. 

Somatic Cells Characteristics

  • Somatic cells are responsible for the growth and development of an organism.

  • They are required for repair and regeneration.

  • Somatic cells undergo mitosis and contain the same set of chromosomes as the organism.

  • Somatic cells have a diploid set of chromosomes as compared to gametes, which are produced by meiosis and have a haploid set of chromosomes.

  • Some species such as wheat consists of a varied set of chromosomes in the somatic cells present, for example hexaploid, triploid, tetraploid, etc.

  • As compared to the germ cells the somatic cells undergo mutation more frequently.

  • Somatic cells are used for cloning by which an identical clone of an individual is produced.

  • “Somatic cell nuclear transfer” is one such process where the nucleus of a somatic cell is transferred to an ovum cell. The somatic cells are implanted into the uterus to get the identical clone. “Dolly the sheep” was cloned from an adult somatic cell.

  • Somatic cells are used to conserve the genetic information of animals.

  • Genetic engineering and manipulation of somatic cells are controversial but of great importance to research and biotechnology.

Somatic Cells Types and Examples

There are numerous types of somatic cells. There are 220 types of somatic cells present in our body. Many cells are differentiated to perform various specific functions.

Some of the specialized somatic cells are:

  • Skin Cells: The unique quality of these cells is regeneration.

  • Nerve Cells: Neurons are specialized cells, which receive and propagate signals to and from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body. These are responsible for the control and coordination of all the functions that take place in the body.

  • Muscle Cells: Myocytes are specialized cells to perform different functions. There are three main types of muscles:

    • Smooth muscle: The internal lining of these internal organs, digestive tract, and urinary tract are made up of smooth muscles.

    • Cardiac muscle: They are found present in the heart which helps in the pumping of blood.

    • Skeletal muscle: Attached to bones and helps in body movement.

  • Blood Cells: Blood consists of various differentiated cells such as:

    • Erythrocytes: Red blood cells (RBCs) carry oxygen to different tissues. In humans, RBCs are biconcave and anucleated.

    • Leukocytes: White blood cells (WBCs) provide protection against foreign antigens and infections. There are five main types of WBCs.

    • Platelets: Thrombocytes are responsible for blood clotting.

Difference Between Somatic Cells and Gametes


Somatic cells



Somatic cell definition is as follows, the cells that help in the composition of a body.

The cells that help in the reproduction of an organism are called gametes.


They are diploid.

They are haploid.

Role in reproduction

Asexual reproduction

Sexual reproduction

Presence in the body

Present in each and every part of the body.

Present only in the reproductive system.

Number of chromosomes

It contains 46 chromosomes.

It contains 46 chromosomes.


Present in germ cells. Germ cell example: Spermatozoa, and ova.

Present in stem cells. Stem cells are developed from germ cells. Example: Sperm and egg.


Examples of somatic cells include nerve cells, blood cells, brain cells, etc.

Examples include sperm and ova.


What are somatic cells important for? Any cell in the body which does not have the capability of producing male and female gametes are somatic cells. These somatic cells are produced by the process of cell division. If these cells undergo mutation then there are chances of getting diseases or it can act as a source of cancer. But it cannot be carried to future generations. All the somatic cells have the same DNA. Referring to this article will help you to answer a few questions such as What is somatic? Define somatic, its location, and function.