Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1655-3


A vesicle in biology is a small organelle within a cell consisting of fluid enclosed by a membrane is a small membrane-enclosed sac that can store or transport substances. When prepared artificially they are generally called liposomes. They can be formed from a wide variety of surfactants including simple fatty acids and mixtures of fatty acids and fatty alcohols. In living organisms, most vesicles have specialized functions depending on what materials they contain. Vesicles are used in the cell to store, transport, or break down cellular products and waste. The membrane enclosing the vesicle is similar to that of the cell membrane, and vesicles can fuse with the plasma membrane to release their contents outside of the cell, in a process known as exocytosis. Vesicles can also fuse with other organelles within the cell.

See Also


Cell Membrane Bioorganic Chemistry Lipid Bilayer Living Organism Fatty Alcohol 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI)Tokyo Institute of TechnologyMeguro-kuJapan
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced StudyPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Blue Marble Space Institute of ScienceWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Chemical EvolutionGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA