Q:

What do animal cells have that plant cells don't?

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Quick Answer

Animal cells contain structures such as lysosomes and centrioles that plant cells do not. Animal cells are also generally smaller and have more variety in shape than do plant cells.

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What do animal cells have that plant cells don't?
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Full Answer

Both animal and plant cells are eukaryotic, meaning that they have a nucleus and membrane-bound organelles. However, animal and plant cells have several differences in structure that reflect their different functions. Animal cells contain lysosomes, organelles that digest large molecules. In most plant cells vacuoles, rather than lysosomes, are responsible for breaking down macromolecules. Animal cells contain vacuoles as well but, where plant cells often possess a single large vacuole, most animal cells contain several small ones.

During cell division, animal cells rely on centrioles for organization and regulation as chromosomes line up to divide; plant cells lack these cylinder-shaped organelles. Because animal cells lack the rigid cell wall of plant cells, having only a flexible cell membrane, they have much more diversity in shape. It also means that animal cells rely on internal structures for cellular support, rather than gaining support from a cell wall.

Both plant and animal cells need to store energy, but they accomplish this in different ways. Animal cells utilize a complex carbohydrate, glycogen, to store energy, while plant cells store energy in the form of starch.

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