Differences between Prokaryotic and Eucaryotic Cells

Last updated on May 16th, 2021

All living cells can be classified as either prokaryotic or eukaryotic. Prokaryotic cells lack a nucleus and other membrane-enclosed structures, whereas eukaryotic cells have such structures.

All prokaryotes are single-celled organisms and all are bacteria. Eukaryotes include all plants, animals, fungi, and protists (such as malaria parasites).

FeaturesProcaryotic cellsEucaryotic cells
Size1-2 by 1-4 micrometer or lessGreater than 5 micrometer in width or diameter
Genetic system  
LocationNucleoid, chromatin body or nuclear materialNucleus, mitochondria, chloroplasts
Structure of nucleusNot bounded by nuclear membrane; one circular chromosome
Chromosome does not contain histones; no mitotic division
Nucleolus absent; functionally related genes may be clustered.
Bounded by nuclear membrane; more than one chromosome
Chromosomes have histones; mitotic nuclear divisionNucelolus present; functionally related genes not clustered
SexualityZygote nature is merozygotic (partial diploid)Zygote is diploid
Cytoplasmic nature and Structures   
Cytoplasmic streamingAbsentPresent
Gas vacuolesCan be presentAbsent
Ribosomes70S, distributed in the cytoplasm.80S arrayed on membranes as in endoplasmic reticulum; 70S in mitochondria and chloroplasts
ChloroplastsAbsentMay be present
Golgi structuresAbsentPresent
Endoplasmic reticulumAbsentPresent
Membrane-bound (true) vacuolesAbsentPresent
Outer Cell Structure   
Cytoplasmic membranesGenerally do not contain sterols; contain part of respiratory and, in some, photosynthetic machinerySterols present; do not carry out respiration and photosynthesis
Cell WallPeptidoglycan (murein or mucopeptide) as componentAbsence of peptidoglycan
Locomotor organellesSimple fibril (flagella)Multifibrilled with “9+2” microtubules
PseudopodiaAbsentPresent in some
Metabolic mechanismsWide variety, particularly that of anaerobic energy yielding reactions; some fix nitrogen gas; some accumulate poly-β-hydroxybutyrate as reserve materialGlycolysis is pathway for anaerobic energy-yielding mechanism
DNA base ratios as moles % of guanine + cytosine (G+C%)28 to 73About 40
About Nisha Rijal 43 Articles
I am working as Microbiologist in National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), government national reference laboratory under the Department of health services (DoHS), Nepal. Key areas of my work lies in Bacteriology, especially in Antimicrobial resistance.

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