Definition of a Cell
The cell is the fundamental unit of life. In unicellular and multicellular organisms, the cell is regarded as the structural and functional unit of life. This is because all living organisms are composed of one or many cells that perform various functions towards sustaining life. Unicellular organisms are thought to be one of the earliest forms of life on earth. Eventually, more complex multicellular organisms evolved from these unicellular life forms over the aeons.
Multicellular organisms have specialized cells with complicated cell organelles, which unicellular organisms typically lack. In an ecosystem, plants have the role of producers while animals have taken the role of consumers. Hence, their daily activities and functions vary, so do their cell structure. Cell structure and organelles vary in plants and animals, and they are primarily classified are based on their function.
Each cell organelle has a particular function to perform. Some of the cell organelles are present in both plant cell and the animal cell, while others are unique to just one. Most of the earth’s higher organisms are eukaryotes, including all plant and animals. Hence, these cells share some similarities typically associated with eukaryotes. For instance, most eukaryotic cells consist of a plasma membrane, a nucleus, cytoplasm, ribosomes, peroxisomes, mitochondria and other cell organelles.
Also Read: Biodiversity in Plants and Animals
Difference Between Plant Cells and Animal Cells
As stated before, plant cells and animal cells share a few common cell organelles as both are eukaryotes. The function of all these organelles is said to be extremely similar lying between two classes of cells. However, major differences do exist between them which significantly reflect the difference in the functions of each cell. The major differences between the structure of animal and plant cells are as follows:
|Characteristic||Plant Cell||Animal Cell|
|Cell shape||Has distinct edges, usually square or rectangular in shape.||Is irregular and round in shape.|
|Nucleus||Present and lies on one side of the cell||Present and lies in the centre of the cell|
|Lysosomes||Present but are very rare||Present|
|Vacuoles||Few large or a single, centrally positioned vacuole||Usually small and numerous|
|Cilia||Absent||Most of the animal cells consist of cilia|
|Mitochondria||Present, but fewer in number||Are present and are numerous|
|Essential nutrients||The plant cell can synthesize amino acids, vitamins and coenzymes||The animal cell cannot synthesize amino acids, vitamins, and coenzymes|
Both plant and animal cell contain membrane-bound organelles like the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, Golgi apparatus, peroxisomes, lysosomes. They also have similar membranes such as cytosol, and cytoskeletal elements. The plant cell can also be larger than the animal cell. The normal range of the animal cell varies from about 10 – 30 micrometres and that of plant cell range between 10 – 100 micrometres.
Also Read: Vertebrates
Important Questions On Difference Between Plant cell and Animal cell
- What do plant cells exclusively have that animal cells don’t?
- Explain how plant and animal cells vary with respect to their shape.
- Explain why plant cells are generally larger than animal cells?
- Are vacuoles present in animal cells?
- What is the function of vacuoles in a plant cell?
- How is a cell wall different from a cell membrane?
- Name some cell organelles present exclusively in animal cells.
- Name the cell organelle responsible for providing structural support for plant cells.
- Explain in detail the difference between plant cells and animal cells.
- Which cell organelle is responsible for carrying out photosynthesis in a plant cell?
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