Plant and animal cells are both eukaryotic cells. So, these cells have many structural similarities. However, some structural components of plant and animal cells have many distinct features.
The similarities between plant and animal cells are that both are eukaryotic, have a cell membrane, the nucleus homes genetic material, and have membrane-bound cell organelles like mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, etc.
Although plant and animal cells are eukaryotic with similar features, these have many differences; the outermost covering of the plant cell is the cell wall, cell organelle like plastids are present in a plant cell but absent in animal cells, size of vacuoles varies, etc.
Table of Contents
Similarities Between Plant and Animal Cells
The similarities between plant and animal cells are as follows:
- The nature of the cell is eukaryotic: The genetic material of both plant and animal cells is enclosed inside a membrane-bound cell organelle called the nucleus. This is a characteristic feature of eukaryotic cells that the prokaryotic cells lack.
- Cell organelles: Plant and animal cells have cell organelles that are membrane-bound like nuclei, mitochondria, Golgi bodies, lysosomes, mitochondria, and vacuoles. Another same cell organelle in both plant cell and animal cell is ribosomes, which lack membranes.
- Presence of cytoplasm: The cytoplasm is the gel-like liquid present in both plant cell and animal cell. It is the place where all the cell organelles lie. The cytoplasm composition of both plant cell and animal cell is the same.
- Types of membranes: The protective layer surrounding the cytoplasm and some cell organelles of the plant cell and animal cell are similar in composition. The cell membrane of plant cell and animal cell is composed of phospholipids, sterols, and glycolipids. Likewise, the mitochondria of both plant cell and animal cell are double membranes, and the membranes are composed of a phospholipid bilayer and unique kinds of proteins. Similarly, other membrane-bound cell organelles have similar composition of membranes.
- Plasma membranes: A protective layer surrounds both plant cell and animal cell with the same composition. This protective layer is called plasma/cell membrane.
Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells
The basis for differences between plant and animal cells are as follows:
The size of the plant and animal cells varies widely. The animal cells are smaller (10 µm), whereas the plant cells are larger (10-100 µm).
The outer covering of the animal cell is a thick layered plasma/cell membrane. Although the plant cell has a plasma membrane, its outermost covering is the cell wall. The plant’s cell wall is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins.
Animal cells are either irregular or circular due to the absence of a cell wall. The plant cells have fixed rectangular shapes due to a cell wall.
Centrioles and Centrosomes
A barrel-shaped membrane-bound cell organelle present near the nuclear envelope of animal cells is called the centrioles. The role of the centriole is to arrange microtubules in the cytoskeleton and determine the nucleus’s location in the cytoplasm.
The centrosome is the cell organelle composed of two centrioles. The centrosomes play a role during the interphase stage of cell division. The plant cell lacks centrioles and centrosomes.
The vacuoles, a membrane-bound cell organelle, are responsible for storing foods and waste products. In plant cells, the vacuoles are single, large, and centrally located. Vacuoles in animal cells are numerous and smaller in size. Besides storing food and waste materials, vacuoles in the plant help balance the water level.
The membrane-bound cell organelles present in plant cells perform specialized functions like chloroplasts, a plastid responsible for conducting photosynthesis. There are three types of plastids; chloroplasts, leucoplasts, and chromoplasts. The green pigment secreted by chloroplasts called chlorophyll is useful in photosynthesis (the process of preparing food by plants) Animal cells do not have plastids.
The Golgi apparatus in plant cells are larger, simpler, several hundred in number, and are called dictyosomes. In contrast, these organelles are single in number, complex, and prominent in animal cells.
|Plant cells||Animal cells|
|The plant cells are larger than animal cells.||Animal cells are usually smaller in size.|
|The plant cells are rectangular shaped.||Animal cells usually have irregular shapes.|
|An outer envelope covers the plasma membrane of the plant cell called a cell wall.||Animal cell lacks a cell wall, and the plasma membrane is the outer membrane.|
|Plastid, a membrane-bound cell organelle, is present in a plant cell.||Except for Eugelena, animal cells lack plastids.|
|The vacuole in the plant cell is single, large, and centrally located.||Animal cells have numerous vacuoles and are small in size.|
|Plant cells have many simpler units of Golgi apparatus called dictyosomes.||Animal cells have a single highly complex and prominent Golgi apparatus.|
|Plant cells lack centrosomes and centrioles.||Animal cells have centrosomes and centrioles.|
|The number of mitochondria are fewer.||The number of mitochondria are more than that of plant cell.|
- Iwasa, J., & Marshall, W. (2016). Karp’s Cell and Molecular Biology (8th ed.). Wiley.
- Verma, P., & Agarwal, V. (2004). Cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, evolution and ecology (23rd ed.). S Chand and Company.