Are Plant and Animal Cells Alike or Different?


Quick Answer

Animal and plant cells have differences in size, shape and in the organelles they possess, but also have many similar features. Both plant and animals are eukaryotes with a membrane and nucleus.

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Full Answer

Both types of cells have an outer membrane as well as a nucleus with a membrane of its own. They also contain many of the same organelles, such as endoplasmic reticula, the Golgi apparatus, ribosomes and mitochondria. Plants and animals both contain vacuoles, but vacuoles in animal cells tend to be small and exist throughout the cell, while plants have a large central vacuole.

Plant cells are, on average, larger than plant cells and have a more distinct shape. This is because plant cells have a stiff cell wall lending them shape and stability. Plant cells also contain chloroplasts, the location of photosynthesis; these structures are unnecessary in animal cells. Plasmodesmata are openings between the cell walls of plant cells that allow for the passage of molecules and also signal transmission between cells. Glyoxysomes help plants turn lipids into sugars, but are absent in animal cells.

Animal cells contain lysosomes for digesting cellular debris; vacuoles accomplish this task in plant cells. Animal cells utilize tube-like centrioles for cellular organization during division. Cell division for animal cells requires a simple pinching of the cell membrane. Because of their rigid cell wall, plant cells divide through the formation of a cell plate.

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