Tissues

A tissue isn’t just something you blow your nose in! In biology, tissues are groups of connected cells that all have a similar function. Different types of tissue combine to make up your body’s organs. These organs then make up the twelve organ systems!

Types of Tissues

There are four main types of tissue in the human body. These same types are found in all mammals. The tissue types are:

  1. Connective tissue
  2. Epithelial tissue
  3. Nervous tissue
  4. Muscle tissue

We’ll go through each of these tissue types to learn a little more about them!

Connective Tissue

Connective tissue is usually made of cells in an extracellular matrix. You can picture it kind of like pieces of fruit suspended in jello. Connective tissue has many different jobs. It connects organs and other tissue types together. But it can also support other tissues or keep them separated. Bones, tendons, fat, and ligaments are all examples of connective tissue.

X-ray of hands with heart.

The bones in this x-ray are connective tissue.

Epithelial Tissue

Epithelial tissue lines the surfaces of the body. It consists of a layer of cells that are packed tightly together. Epithelial tissue is a barrier that prevents things like bacteria from passing through. The largest epithelial tissue in humans is our skin. Another example of epithelial tissue is the lining of your small intestine. The picture at the top of this page shows epithelial tissue in the pancreas!

Nervous Tissue

The job of nervous tissue is to sense things and process and send information. You have nerves all through your body that help you feel objects, think, and make your muscles move. The biggest examples of nervous tissue are brain tissue and your spinal cord.

Neurons

Nervous tissue, like these neurons, help us feel and sense things.

Muscle Tissue

The muscle tissue is made of muscle cells, which combine to form long fibers. Muscle has several different jobs. When you think of muscles, you probably first think of skeletal muscles. These are the muscles that let us move.

Diagram of the back muscles.

Skeletal muscle tissue lets us move our bodies!

We also have cardiac muscle, which lets the heart pump blood. The last kind of muscle is smooth muscle. It is found in many places in your body, including your blood vessels and digestive tract. But, you can’t control your smooth muscle or cardiac muscle by thinking about them. Your brain controls those muscles all on its own!

Plant Tissues

Animals are not the only ones who have tissues! Plants also have their own special types of tissue too. These are the dermal tissue, vascular tissue, and ground tissue.

Plant dermal tissue is like our epithelial tissue. It is a layer on the outside of the plant that protects the plant. Vascular tissue includes the xylem and phloem. These transport water and nutrients throughout the plant. All the other parts of the plant are the ground tissue. Ground tissue carries out photosynthesis and stores nutrients for the plant.

Leaves on a bush.

These leaves are part of the plant’s ground tissue.

Other Great Resources

MooMoo Math and Science Video on Types of Tissues:

Body Tissues – CK-12: https://www.ck12.org/biology/body-tissues/lesson/Tissues-of-the-Human-Body-Advanced-BIO-ADV/

Tissues, Organs, & Organ Systems – Khan Acadamy: https://www.khanacademy.org/science/high-school-biology/hs-human-body-systems/hs-body-structure-and-homeostasis/a/tissues-organs-organ-systems

Types of Tissues – Open Oregon State: http://library.open.oregonstate.edu/aandp/chapter/4-1-types-of-tissues/

Plant Tissues – Lumen Learning: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-mcc-biology2/chapter/plant-tissues/

Written by: Alexa Wnorowski.