The cell is the most fundamental unit of the existence of living organisms. All life activities are carried out by cells, and the cell is the lowermost unit required for independent existence. Consequently, organisms are classified based on the number, structure, and organization of cells.
In any given ecosystem, plants are the produces and animals, consumers. Do you think the structures of their cells are different? If you do, you’re right.
Most of the differences are set on cell organelles. While most organelles are common to both plant and animal cells, some of them are unique to a particular one. Their similarities are because they both share the status of “eukaryotes” or organisms with an advanced cell type.
The following are the major differences between plant and animal cells.
|Characteristics||Plant Cell||Animal Cell|
|Shape||Plant cells are square or rectangular.||Animal cells are usually round or circular.|
|Cell wall||Outside the cell membrane, a presence of a protective layer known as the cell wall is present.||The cell wall is absent in animal cells.|
|Nucleus||Here, the nucleus is placed at the side because it is pushed away by a large vacuole.||Here, the nucleus is located centrally.|
|Lysosomes (also called suicide bags of the cell)||They are rarely present.||They are present in full measure.|
|Centrosomes||They are absent here.||They are present here.|
|Plastids||These are mainly responsible for photosynthesis and are hence present in the plant cell.||Absent.
|Vacuoles||Multiple large or a single large vacuole that is placed centrally.||Numerous amounts of vacuoles present that are usually very small. These are scattered across the cell.|
|Cilia||Absent. Plant cells are non-motile.||Most animal cells contain cilia in abundance.|
|Mitochondria (also called powerhouses of the cell)||Present but are rather few in number.||Present in abundance.|
|Mode of Nutrition||They are primarily autotrophic, with few exceptions.||They are heterotrophic without any known exceptions.|
|Size||Usually between 10-30 micrometers.||Usually between 10-100 micrometers.|
The Specialised Characteristics are:
These are present in plants and algae but not in animals. These organelles are responsible for the process of photosynthesis which happens with the help of nutrients and sunlight. As autotrophs, they create their food, and all heterotrophs are directly or indirectly dependant on them.
Chloroplasts have their DNA and are believed to have been a type of prokaryotic bacteria housed in algae about 1.5 billion years ago which was then modified to become organelles.
A vacuole is an organelle that holds substances called the cell sap. The vacuole is usually a large one in plants and many small ones in animals. In animals, it has a second function of providing rigidity through pressure.
They are present only in plant cells. This is because they are non-motile and need protection from external conditions, and that is where the cell wall comes into play. It provides rigidity and protection to the cell and fixates its cytoplasm. It also protects the cell from bursting due to the turgor pressure applied by the vacuole. It is mainly composed of cellulose.
What are the similarities between plant and animal cells?
The main similarity between the plant and animal cells is that they are both eukaryotes. Moreover, they are all part of the domain Eukarya because they have a well-defined nucleus with a proper nuclear membrane and other membrane-bound organelles.
Another similarity is that cell division occurs through meiosis and mitosis and not binary fission.
When it comes to organelles, they both have a well-defined nucleus.
Also, they both have the endoplasmic reticulum, which is responsible for protein synthesis, among other things.
They also both contain mitochondria, although plants have them in fewer numbers. The function is the production of energy for the metabolic activities of the cell.
Golgi apparatus packages all the proteins produced by the ER. They are present in both plant and animal cells.
They also both contain ribosomes and the cytoplasm, which is the site of all living cell activity.
What are facts about plant and animal cells?
Animal cell facts:
- Animal cells undergo mitosis or meiosis in order to divide and multiply in number.
- Telomeres, present at the end of chromosomes, perform the function of protecting the chromosome against damage and disruption and ensure that there is no abnormal fusion on chromosomes.
- The average size of an animal cell ranges from 10 µm to 100 µm. An animal cell’s size is determined by its diameter, not the length or height.
- Each cell in animals is self-destroying. The function of the lysosome is to end the cell in case of abnormalities, injuries, or infections. It does so in order to ensure that the abnormality does not affect and spread to the other cells. This is why lysosomes are called the ‘suicide bags’ of the cell.
- All animal cells are capable of self-repair and rejuvenation. They do so in case of damage or infection, and if they are unable to undergo the process, they destroy themselves.
- The stem cells in animals are totipotent. They have the ability to take the form of any cell as required.
- The body of an animal generates millions of cells each day. This is primarily because of the fact that more than 150 million cells die each minute. Also, every 24 hours, a cell cycle takes place.
- Animal cells are irregular in shape. This is mainly because there is a lack of rigidity in terms of a cell wall.
- While it is true that most animal cells have DNA, there are exceptions. For example, the red blood cells or the RBCs do not have a nucleus. This is because they do not need to replicate through meiosis or mitosis. Instead, they can carry out the more necessary function of holding hemoglobin.
- Some animal cells have the ability to swim. This is the case with protozoans. In humans, this is the case with the sperm cell that swims to the ova and merges with it.
Plant cell facts:
- Plant cells have been great at adaptation. They adapt to environments ranging from the cacti in deserts to the weeds that grow underwater.
- Plant cells have a definite shape due to the combined efforts of the large vacuole holding cell sap and the rigid cell wall.
- Their cell walls are composed primarily of cellulose. Pectin, and sometimes lignin, is secreted on the outside of the cell membrane and also helps to build the cell wall. This is different from the cell walls of fungi because they are made of chitin and bacteria. After all, they are made of peptidoglycan.
- The cells in plants have special communication pathways called the plasmodesmata. These are pores in the walls of the cell, which allow the cell content of adjacent cells to flow through.
- Of all their plastids, the most commonly known are the chloroplasts, which contain chlorophyll. This pigment is green in color and absorbs sunlight, which is how the plant makes its food by photosynthesis. Other types of plastids are the amyloplasts, and they store starch. Then there are Elaioplasts for fat storage and chromoplasts for making and storing pigments. Like mitochondria, plastids have their genomes.
- Their large central vacuole is a water-filled space with dissolved salts and sugars enclosed by a membrane. The vacuole keeps the cell’s turgor pressure in check and controls molecules’ movement between the cytosol and sap. It also stores useful material and digests waste proteins and organelles.
- Cell division occurs by constructing a ‘cell plate’ in cytokinesis in land plants and some of the groups of algae.
- Sometimes, chloroplasts move around within the cell to position themselves to where they can absorb sunlight properly and efficiently.
- About one-sixth of the energy derived from the sun is used by plant cells, and the remaining energy goes to animals in the form of sugar and carbohydrates, and their food.
- Many plant cells contain guard cells that help ensure that the cell does not swell with too much water or shrink with lack thereof.
What do plant and animal cells do?
The function of the plant cell is really simple. Plant cells are the building blocks of plants, and their major function is photosynthesis, without the existence of which, heterotrophs would cease to exist.
Photosynthesis occurs in chloroplasts. It is the process of food preparation through the absorption of minerals, sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. Energy in the form of ATP is formed in this process.
There are many types of plant cells, primarily:
- Collenchyma: hard and rigid cells that play a primary role in providing support to plants.
- Sclerenchyma: These are even more rigid because they contain a hardening agent.
- Parenchyma: They are living cells that are involved in leaf production. They are involved in gas exchange, food production, storage, and cell metabolism. They are flexible.
- Xylem: They help in the transport of water and minerals from roots to leaves.
- Phloem: They transport food prepared food from the leaves to all parts of the plant.
Animal cells are the fundamental units of an animal body. Majorly, they support the structure, form, internal and external activities, transportation, and more in the body.
There are admittedly numerous types of cells. The most common of them are given below.
- Skin cells: Melanocytes, Keratinocytes, Markel cells, and Langerhans cells.
- Muscle cells: Tendon cells, Myosatellite cells, and Cardiac muscle cells.
- Blood cells: Leukocytes, Erythrocytes, and Platelets.
- Nerve cells: Schwann cells and Glial cells.
- Fat cells: Adipocytes.
Cells are the basic unit of life, and they differ in shapes, sizes, and functions. However, plant cells and animal cells have some common features, mainly because they are eukaryotic. The reason they differ is that animals are usually locomotive and plants are stationary.
So, plants need protection, and animals need motility. Another reason is the fact that plants are autotrophs and animals, heterotrophs. So, plants need to produce their food while animals simply need to acquire the produced food.