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How are prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells different?

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Quick Answer

Prokaryotic cells are simpler than eukaryotic cells. Eukaryotes have a nucleus and organelles while prokaryotes do not. Both types of cells have a plasma membrane and contain cytoplasm.

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Full Answer

Eukaryotes store their DNA in the nucleus while prokaryotes have genetic material stored in a coiled loop floating in the cytoplasm. Eukaryotes have mitochondria and chloroplasts to carry out metabolic functions while prokaryotes have the process occur across the cell membrane. Prokaryote cell walls are usually formed from peptidoglycan while many eukaryotes do not have a cell wall. Prokaryotes are generally much smaller than eukaryotes, but they have a larger surface area to volume ratio. This gives them a higher metabolic rate and a higher growth rate.

Prokaryotes generate more quickly than eukaryotes. Prokaryotes have close-packed genomes compared to eukaryotes. Prokaryote genes do not have introns and large non-coding regions between the genes, but nearly all the prokaryote genomes code or control something in the cell. Prokaryote genes are together in groups called operons, but genes are individuals in eukaryotes.

Eukaryotes contain a number of chromosomes, while prokaryotes contain only one chromosome that is not a true chromosome. Eukaryotes contain lysosomes, peroxisomes and an endoplasmic reticulum, all of which are absent in prokaryotes. Ribosomes are present in both types of cells, but they are larger in eukaryotes. Eukaryotes are usually multicellular while prokaryotes are usually unicellular, though there are exceptions to this. Eukaryotes are expressed in plants and animals while prokaryotes make up bacteria and archaea.

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