What Cellular Features Differentiate Plants From Animals?

The primary differences in the features of plant cells and animal cells are the presence or absence of a cell wall, chloroplasts and centrioles. Plant cells have cell walls and chloroplasts, while animal cells lack such organelles; but instead, they contain centrioles. Additionally, the only plant cells that possess flagella are sex cells, whereas they are more common in a variety of animal cell types.

The cell wall of plant cells is a secondary structure that provides support to the cell. It occurs in addition to the cell membrane, which is found in both plant and animal cells. Chloroplasts are the organelles that enable photosynthesis to take place. Some scientists contend that chloroplasts are ancient symbiotic bacteria that plant cells eventually captured and incorporated.

Animal cells have structures called centrioles that plant cells lack. Centrioles are involved in the construction of microtubules during the process of cell division. Plants undergo mitosis in a different manner, and do not need microtubules.

The sperm cells of both animals and plants usually feature flagella, which help the reproductive cells to make their way to the egg cell. Few other plant cells have such structures, and for the most part, plants are not mobile organisms.