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Plant Cells vs Animal Cells - Major Difference and Comparison

Home / Blog / Plant Cells vs Animal Cells - Major Difference and Comparison

Plant Cells vs Animal Cells
 Admin  August 19, 2020  Assignment  0

Chicken or egg – which came first? This question has dumbfounded many of us and stalled several debates already. If the egg did come first, who laid the egg? Again, if we assume that the chicken came first, then where did it hatch from? Quite the labyrinth we have got here, and there is no way out of the maze. Let’s ask someone who has the answer – Biology! 

The answer to this exasperating question finds its roots in the concept of cell development. From plankton to trees to microorganisms to human beings – cell is the core of evolution. So, what is a cell, and how does it function in animals and plants?

Let us unearth the facts together and understand all that we need to know about plant and animal cells before you start doing your biology homework to help you score the best grades.

What are Plant Cells?

Plant cells are eukaryotic cells, where the nucleus is bound by a membrane. A plant cell’s DNA is also enclosed within its nucleus. Usually, plant cells are larger than animal cells, with its structure being either rectangular or cuboid. Plant cells also have a cell membrane with a cell wall that forms an outer lining. The cell wall is made up of cellulose and enzymes and is a prominent feature of the plant cell that makes it an exceptional eukaryotic cell.

Plants cells also contain other cellular structures, and each of these structures carries out necessary functions that help a plant survive. The structures produce enzymes, hormones, and other metabolic activities within a plant cell. 

The features of a plant cell are:  

  • Plant cells contain a cell wall, plastids, and vacuoles besides the nucleus.
  • The role of the cell wall is to provide structural support to a plant cell.
  • Plastids are responsible for storing plant products in the plant cells. 
  • Chloroplasts carry out photosynthesis in plants, thus helping in food production. 
  • The large vacuoles store water, minerals and other useful substances. 

The Function of the Various Parts of a Plant Cell

Every part of a plant cell works in cooperation with other structures to ensure the proper functioning of the cell. Here is the role that each component plays.

  • Cell Wall

It is a rigid membrane of 3 layers - the primary and the secondary cell wall and the middle lamella. Located right after the cell membrane, the cell wall gives strength to the plant and protects it against force and infection.

  • Cell Membrane

The cell membrane forms the outer boundary of the plant cell and encloses the cytoplasm and other organelles within. It is semi-permeable, thus allowing certain growth-inducing minerals to pass through and blocking other unsafe substances.

  • Chloroplasts

Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll, the chemical that has a green pigment and gives color to the leaves of a plant. Chloroplasts absorb sunlight and convert light into chemical energy. This accelerates the process of photosynthesis in plants.  

What are Animal Cells?

Animal cells are eukaryotic cells where the nucleus is placed in the center along with specialized organelles. The organelles of an animal cell carry out different growth-sustaining functions like plant cells. However, animal cells do not contain cell walls or chloroplasts.

The features of an animal cell are:  

  • The nucleus contains the DNA and regulates the genes, thus controlling the cell's activity and functioning.
  • The cells contain centrosomes, and these organelles organize DNA during cell division.
  • The ribosomes in the cells are responsible for synthesizing proteins.
  • The endoplasmic reticulum consists of membranous sacs called cisternae. These modify and transport proteins made by the ribosomes.
  • The role of vesicles is to transport molecules in the cell from one organelle to another.
  • Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and hosts cellular respiration.

The Function of the Parts of an Animal Cell

The cell membrane is made up of phospholipids and forms a boundary outside the animal cell. Phospholipids are molecules containing phosphates that are attached to glycerol and fatty acid. They form double-layered membranes in water due to hydrophilic properties of the phosphates and the hydrophobia of fatty acids. The cell membrane allows selective permeability, allowing only oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through it. It obstructs most molecules that are charged. However, some charged molecules are allowed to pass through a special channel in the membrane to maintain homeostasis in the cell.

Plant Cells Vs Animal Cells - Compare and Contrast

What are the similarities between plant and animal cells?

Since both the cells are eukaryotic in nature, the plant cell and the animal cell have several behavioral similarities. Both the cells contain membrane-bound organelles like the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, Golgi, lysosomes, and peroxisomes.

Like the animal cell, the plant cells contain membranes made up of cytoskeletal and cytosol elements. When it comes to functional properties, the role of organelles in plant and animal cells are similar too.

However, there are a few differences between plant cells and animal cells. Read on the next section before you do your science homework to help yourself to the perfect scores.

What are the differences between plant and animal cells?

Plant cells are larger than animal cells. The normal range for a plant cell is between 10 to 100 micrometers. The size of animal cells can range from 10 to 30 micrometers.

Apart from size, there are several other structural differences between plant and animal cells too. Here is all that you need to know.

  • Deriving energy

In animals, the mitochondria are responsible for churning cellular energy from food. In plant cells, chloroplasts use sunlight for energy and convert it through a complex set of reactions.

  • The status of a cell wall

One of the most significant structural differences between plant cells and animal cells is the missing cell wall in the former. As discussed earlier, a rigid cell wall made up of fats and sugars forms an outer lining after the cell membrane in plant cells.

  • No role for vacuoles

Animal cells do not contain vacuoles, and these organelles are only found in plant cells. Vacuoles act as space-fillers in the plant cells. They comprise several enzymes, which are used in digestive functions in plants. Plants also use vacuoles to store nutrients.

Here is a table that shows the similarities and differences between plant cells and animal cells at a glance.

Cell Organelles

Plant Cell

Animal Cell

Cell Wall

Present

Absent

Cell Membrane

Present

Present

Cell Nucleus

Present

Present

Mitochondria

Present

Present

Ribosomes

Present

Present

Endoplasmic Reticulum

Present

Present

Golgi Apparatus

Present

Present

Chloroplast

Present

Absent

Vacuole

Present

Present

Centrioles

Absent

Present

Lysosomes

Absent

Present

We hope that you are now clear how the animal cell and plant cell differ from each other. If you still need some quick biology homework help, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

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