Plant vs Animal cell

Last Updated: July 5, 2024

Plant vs Animal cell

Both plant and animal cells share some key features: a flexible outer layer known as the plasma membrane, a jelly-like substance called cytoplasm, a control center named the nucleus, tiny protein builders called ribosomes, energy-generating mitochondria, and cleanup crew peroxisomes. Despite these similarities, plant and animal cells also have some distinct differences that set them apart. Animal cells are equipped with a special pair of structures called centrioles, nestled within a region known as the centrosome, helping them organize their internal scaffolding. They also boast tiny recycling centers called lysosomes. Plant cells, on the other hand, stand out with their sturdy cell walls, sunlight-harvesting chloroplasts, and a spacious storage unit termed the central vacuole. These differences are not just fascinating details but are essential for the unique ways in which plant and animal cells live, grow, and interact with their environments.

How do plant and animal cells differ?

Plant and animal cells share a common ground as eukaryotic cells, meaning they boast a structured organization with membrane-enclosed organelles, such as the command center nucleus and the power-packed mitochondria. Plant cells are nature’s own solar panels, equipped with chloroplasts that capture sunlight for photosynthesis, a privilege animal cells don’t share. This green machinery allows plants to make their own food, a capability animal cells lack, relying instead on external food sources. Beyond this, plant cells are encased in a robust cell wall that offers extra support and shape, a feature absent in the more flexible animal cells. This added strength is essential for plants to stand tall and withstand various environmental pressures.
  • Mitochondria Presence: Both plant and animal cells contain mitochondria, crucial for energy production.
  • Chloroplasts Exclusive to Plants: Only plant cells possess chloroplasts for photosynthesis, converting sunlight into glucose, eliminating the need for external food sources.
  • Vacuole Variations: Plant cells feature a single, large vacuole for storage and structure, whereas animal cells have multiple, smaller vacuoles with diverse functions.
  • Cell Wall in Plants: Plant cells are unique with a rigid cell wall outside the cell membrane, providing extra support and a characteristic shape, unlike the flexible cell membrane in animal cells.

Differences Between Plant Cell and Animal Cell

FeaturePlant CellAnimal Cell
MitochondriaPresent, converts sugar into energyPresent, converts sugar into energy
ChloroplastsPresent, performs photosynthesis to produce glucoseAbsent, do not perform photosynthesis
VacuolesOne large central vacuole for storage and structureMultiple small vacuoles with varied functions
Cell WallPresent, provides extra support and shapeAbsent, only has a flexible cell membrane
ShapeTypically rectangular due to the rigid cell wallVarious shapes, more flexible due to lack of cell wall
Energy SourceCan produce its own food through photosynthesisRelies on external food sources for energy
Centrioles/CentrosomeAbsent, plant cells do not have centriolesPresent, involved in cell division and the formation of spindle fibers
LysosomesRarely present, plant cells have other ways to deal with wasteCommonly present, involved in digestion and waste removal
PlastidsPresent, involved in storage and pigments in addition to chloroplastsAbsent, do not have plastids
PermeabilityCell wall allows for a high degree of rigidity and less permeabilityCell membrane offers more permeability and flexibility
CytoskeletonLess prominent due to the rigid cell wall structureMore prominent, providing structural support in the absence of a cell wall
PhotosynthesisCapable of photosynthesis through chloroplastsIncapable of photosynthesis
StorageLarge central vacuole primarily for storage of water and nutrientsSmaller vacuoles, with some serving as temporary storage
GrowthGrowth mainly through enlarging the central vacuole, leading to cell enlargementGrowth through cell division

Key Similarities between Plant and Animal cells

  • Plant and animal cells share a lot in common, showing how they both belong to the world of complex living things called eukaryotes:
  • Nucleus: Both plant and animal cells have a nucleus, like a command center that holds their DNA and directs all the cell’s activities.
  • Mitochondria: These are the cell’s power plants, turning food into energy in both plant and animal cells.
  • Cell Membrane: This thin layer wraps around both types of cells, acting like a gatekeeper to control what gets in and out.
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum and Golgi Apparatus: These parts work as the cell’s factory and shipping department, making and sending out proteins and fats.
  • Ribosomes: Tiny machines called ribosomes are in both cells too, reading genetic blueprints to build proteins needed for the cell to work.
  • Cytoskeleton: This is like a skeleton inside both plant and animal cells, giving them shape and helping them move and divide.


we’ve seen that both plant and animal cells share a common set of building blocks, including tiny structures like the nucleus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and in some cases, lysosomes. But there’s also a size difference to note: while animal cells typically measure between 10 and 30 micrometers, plant cells can be a bit roomier, stretching from 10 to 100 micrometers. This size variation, along with the unique features of each, highlights the fascinating diversity and specialization within the cell world.


What are the 5 differences between plant and animal cells?

Plant cells have cell walls, chloroplasts, large vacuoles, fixed shape, and store starch. Animal cells lack these features, have varied shapes, and store glycogen.

What can plants do that animals cannot?

Plants can photosynthesize, converting sunlight into energy, a capability animals do not possess.

What are 10 similarities between plant and animal cells?

Both cell types have nuclei, cytoplasm, mitochondria, Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, cell membranes, DNA, cytoskeletons, and lysosomes.

Why do animal cells not have a cell wall?

Animal cells lack a cell wall to enable flexibility and diverse cell shapes, vital for complex movements and functions.

What do plant cells have that animal cells do not?

Plant cells uniquely possess cell walls, chloroplasts for photosynthesis, and large central vacuoles for storage and support.

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