Tissue (biology)

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

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Biological tissue is a collection of interconnected cells that perform a similar function within an organism.

The study of tissue is known as histology, or, in connection with disease, histopathology.

The classical tools for studying the tissues are the wax block, the tissue stain, and the optical microscope, though developments in electron microscopy, immunofluorescence, and frozen sections have all added to the sum of knowledge in the last couple of decades.With these tools, the classical appearances of the tissues can be examined in health and disease, enabling considerable refinement of clinical diagnosis and prognosis. There are four basic types of tissue in the body of all animals, including the human body and lower multicellular organisms such as insects. These compose all the organs, structures and other contents.

  • Epithelium - Tissues composed of layers of cells that cover organ surfaces such as surface of the skin and inner lining of digestive tract: the tissues that serve for protection, secretion, and absorption.
  • Connective tissue - As the name suggests, connective tissue holds everything together. Connective tissue is characterized by the separation of the cells by an inorganic material, which is called extracellular matrix. Bone and blood are connective tissues.
  • Muscle tissue - Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. Muscle tissue also is separated into three distinct categories: visceral or smooth muscle, which is found in the inner linings of organs; skeletal muscle, which is found attached to bone in order for mobility to take place; and cardiac muscle which is found in the heart.
  • Nervous tissue - Cells forming the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system.

Plant tissues

Examples of tissue in other multicellular organisms are vascular tissue in plants, such as xylem and phloem. Plant tissues are categorized broadly into three tissue systems: the epidermis, the ground tissue, and the vascular tissue. Together they are often referred to as biomass.

See also


  • Raven, Peter H., Evert, Ray F., & Eichhorn, Susan E. (1986). Biology of Plants (4th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. ISBN 0-87901-315-X.

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