Difference between Plant Cell and Animal Cell

The cell is the functional unit of all plant and animals body. Both plants and animals are made up of multiple cells. Both possess eukaryotic cells so they have numerous similarities in their cells for example possession of cell membranes and other cell organelles. But plant and animal cells also differ from each other in many aspects.

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Plant cells are fixed and rectangular in shape whereas animal cells are round and irregular in shape. Plant cells are mainly different from cells of other organisms in the cell wall, chloroplast, and central vacuole. Plant cells are called photoautotrophic cells because they use sunlight to synthesize their food. Animal cells do not possess a cell wall and are called heterotrophic cells. Because animal cells eat other cells to obtain energy and food.

Comparison Chart

Basis for ComparisonPlant CellAnimal Cell
Size10 to 100 micrometer in length10 to 30 micrometer in length
ShapeRectangular or cube-shapedRound or irregular in shape
Energy StorageIn the form of starchIn the form of carbohydrate complex
Protein synthesisCan synthesize 20 amino acid proteinsCan synthesize 10 amino acid protein
Cell wallPresentAbsent
Plasma membranePresentPresent
CentriolesHave cylindrical structures called centriolesAbsent
Endoplasmic reticulumPresentPresent
Golgi apparatusPresentPresent
FlagellaPresent in some cellsPrsent in specific cells (mammalian cells)
CiliaNot usually presentPresent
LysosomesRarely have lysosomesHave lysosomes which contains enzymes
PlastidsPresent (chloroplasts)Absent
VacuoleLarge central vacuoleSmall vacuoles

What is Plant Cell?

A plant cell has multiple parts and each part performs a specific function. The cell wall is the specialized structure of plant cells. It is present on the outermost side of the cells and given strength and turgidity to the cells. It is mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, and lignin. The cell wall of plants is different from the cell walls of another organism in composition. Plant cells have two types of the cell wall, primary cell wall, and secondary cell wall. The primary cell wall is very flexible and present outside the cell and as the plant grows, it develops inside the primary cell wall, secondary cell wall which is very rigid.

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Chloroplasts are very prominent organelles present in the cell wall. They carry out photosynthesis and convert carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into nutrients. Chloroplasts are oval in shape and possess stroma between the outer and inner surfaces. Chloroplasts possess flattened disks like thylakoids with a high quantity of chlorophyll and carotenoids which helps in capturing light. The green color of plants appears because of chlorophylls.

Plant cells are unique because of having a large central vacuole. It is a small sphere that contains ions, fluids, and molecules. It helps to maintain the turgor pressure which is generated when the cell pushes the cell contents against the cell wall.

Besides cell wall, chloroplast and a large vacuole, plant cells contain a nucleus, plasma membrane, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, peroxisomes, glyoxysomes, flagella, plasmodesmata, and cytoplasm. Each organelle performs a specific function. The nucleus of plant cells contains DNA  for instructions of different functions of the plant body. It also maintains the growth and division of the cell. Proteins are made of in ribosomes, folded and processed in the endoplasmic reticulum and stored in the Golgi apparatus. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and produce ATP through cellular respiration.

What is an Animal Cell?

The animal cell also possess different organelles such as the nucleus, cell membrane, ribosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, vesicles, cytosol, cytoskeleton, and each organelle performs a specific function for the cell. Genetic material is present in the nucleus which controls the synthesis of proteins and all activities of the cell. DNA is located near the region where ribosomes are formed. Nucleus is surrounded by the membrane which is called nuclear membrane.

Ribosomes are synthesized in the nucleus and help in the formation of proteins. DNA which codes specific proteins creates copies onto the mRNA chain. mRNA chain travels to the ribosome via transfer RNA and makes proteins. In animal cells, ribosomes are present freely or attached to the membranes. The endoplasmic reticulum is a network of membranes that modifies and transports the synthesized proteins. These membranes are of two types; smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum. The rough appearance of the reticulum is because of attachment of ribosomes on the membranes whereas smooth ER does not have ribosomes.

Vesicles are small spheres composed of the lipid bilayer. These are used for transporting molecules throughout the cell from one organelle to another and help in metabolism. These vesicles contain enzymes that aid in the digestion of all types of molecules in the cell.

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Golgi apparatus is made up of cisternae and performs the function of protein storage. It receives proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum and packages them into vesicles. Mitochondria perform the function of cellular respiration in which sugar and fats are broken down and energy is released in the form of ATP.

The cytosol is the liquid that is present in the cell. Cytosol with all organelles present in it is called cytoplasm. It contains all ions and water with pH 7. The cytoskeleton is another organelle of the animal cells. It is a network of filament and tubules found throughout the cytoplasm and gives the cell shape, provides strength and plays a role in cell signaling. These filaments are of three types; microtubules, microfilament, and intermediate filament.

The entire cell is surrounded by a membrane which is called the cell membrane. It is a double membranous structure composed of phospholipids. Cells exchange ionic and other material through this membrane. It also gives shape to the cell.

Key Differences between Plant Cell and Animal Cell

  1. Plant cells size ranges from 10 to 300 micrometer whereas the size of animal cells range from 10 to 30 micrometer.
  2. Pant cell shape is cubic or rectangular whereas animal cell shape is round or irregular.
  3. The cell wall is present in plant cells whereas it is absent in animal cells.
  4. Centrioles are present in plant cells whereas these organelles are absent in animal cells.
  5. Cilia are absent usually absent in plant cells whereas these are present in animal cells and help in locomotion.
  6. Plant cells store energy in the form of starch molecules whereas animal cells store energy in the form of carbohydrates glycogens.
  7. Plant cells have the ability of differentiation whereas, in animal cells, only stem cells have the ability of differentiation.
  8. Plant cells increase in size by absorbing water in the vacuole and increasing in size whereas animal cells increase in size by increasing in cell numbers.
  9. In-plant cells, glyoxysomes are present which helps to metabolize lipids in germinating seeds whereas these are absent in animal cells.
  10. In-plant cells, plastids are present which are called chloroplasts and help in photosynthesis whereas these organelles are absent in animal cells.
  11. Lysosomes are absent in plant cells whereas present in animal cells. Lysosomes contain enzymes that help in cellular digestion.

Key Similarities

  1. Both possess cell membranes.
  2. Both have a cell nucleus.
  3. Both plant and animal cells have ribosomes and mitochondria.
  4. Both have the Golgi apparatus.


In sum, although both plants and animals possess eukaryotic cells which have some common characteristics, they differ from each other in many aspects.

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