Which Features Are Common to Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells?

Prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells have multiple features in common, including the use of DNA to code for proteins, RNA for translation into proteins and ribosomes to read the RNA. Both types also share such basic cell features as cell membranes and molecules, such as proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. Many prokaryotes and eukaryotes also have cell walls, but the constituents of the walls differ between them.

Neither prokaryotes nor eukaryotes violate any of the basic features required for life as humanity knows it, and so in truth they have much more in common with each other than they have differences. Each must metabolize energy sources and generate ATP. Each uses chemical sensors to react to its environment. Each is dependent on a relatively narrow range of environmental conditions to maintain homeostasis and thrive. Both are part of ecosystems where they behave as either producers or consumers.

As much as the two cell types have in common, however, there are some aspects which are unique to each. Eukaryotes have membrane-bound organelles as a definitive feature, which prokaryotes lack. Many prokaryote producers use photosynthesis like eukaryote producers, but a few are chemoautotrophs. These use inorganic compounds from thermal vents in seafloors and other locations to produce energy instead of sunlight.