What Are the Differences Between Chloroplasts and Mitochondria?

The primary differences between chloroplasts and mitochondria are that chloroplasts contain pigment molecules and thylakoid molecules, while mitochondria have respiratory enzymes that chloroplasts lack. Mitochondria appear in cytoplasm for cells that contain a nucleus, converting nutrients into fuel molecules for cells. Chloroplasts, on the other hand, are the portions of algae and plant cells in which photosynthesis occurs.

As a part of photosynthesis, chloroplasts possess the ability to turn the carbon that comes from carbon dioxide into sugar using light. Mitochondria take sugars and break them down into energy and carbon dioxide. Chloroplasts have a large size and more complexity than mitochondria, and in addition to converting carbon into sugar, they also synthesize fatty acids, amino acids and lipids.

Mitochondria appear in animal and plant cells, but chloroplasts only appear in plant cells. In fact, it is the chloroplasts that give the majority of plants their green color. Mitochondria actually have the structure of a prokaryotic cell, but chloroplasts consist of several thylakoids stacked and surrounded with a fluid known as stroma. Mitochondria are known as the "power plant" for animal cells because they create energy. These two organelles symbolize the division between the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom.