How Animal and Plant Cells are Similar and Different

Similarities and Differences in animal and plant cells including function of the different cell organelles.

What cells are

“With the possible exception of viruses, every form of life on Earth either is a cell or is composed of cells.  All cells come into existence through the activity of other cells.”  (Krough, Chapter 4: Life's Home: The Cell)


Plant and animal cells are both eukaryotic, which is significant of the nuclei. All plant and animal cells have a nucleus containing chromosomes. Chromosomes are kept apart from cytoplasm due to a nuclear envelope surrounding the nucleus.   (Purchon)

Eukaryotic cells – function of cells

Eukaryotic cells are enclosed in a nucleus.  A nucleus is a membrane-lined enclosure that contains the primary complement of DNA in eukaryotic cells.  The nucleus is the most notable difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells.  This type of cell is larger than its counterpart; in fact, the prokaryotic cell can fit inside the eukaryotic cell many times over.  (Krough, Biology - A guide to the natural world)

Cytoplasm – function of cell organelles

Cytoplasm is found in both animal and plant cells.  The way it looks is similar to a jelly-like substance, typically clear in color.  This substance is also referred to as cystol, which means cell substance.  Cytoplasm is a major key on providing protection by keeping all the cell organelles in a soup-like form together.  (Melanie) 


The cell receives the energy necessary for moving, dividing, contract, and more, essentially, it provides the power a cell has.  The Mitochondria is a membrane-like organelle, which also contains a double membrane, like the nucleus. The inside of the membrane has numerous folds called cristae, which increases the membrane’s surface area.  Sugar, also known as food is combined with oxygen on the cristae to produce ATP, the primary energy source of the cell.  (Sullivan)



Lysosomes digest by use of hydrolytic enzymes contained in this type of organelle.  These enzymes are normally found in animal cells and rarely found in plant cells.  If at all, enzymes are found in vacuole of a plant cell.  (Sullivan)


A cell enveloped in a membrane filled with oxidative enzymes.  Peroxisomes change fatty acids over to sugar and assist chloroplasts in photorespiration.  A process by which plant metabolism RuBP (a sugar) receives oxygen added to it by the enzymes instead of carbon dioxide in the trans-course of photosynthesis.  This process weakens the effect of photosynthesis in C3 plants.  (Structure)

However, in animal cells, peroxisomes protect the cell from the production of its own toxic hydrogen peroxide.  (Sullivan)  For example, bacteria are killed by the hydrogen peroxide produced from white blood cells.

Cell Wall

Animal cell do not have cell walls, but plant cells have a protective cell wall consisting of polysaccharides (a polymeric carbohydrate structure).  The cell walls give shape and structure while serving the double purpose of providing protection.  Interesting fact, fluid is pushed out by the plant cell vacuole against the cell wall.  The crispness and freshness of vegetables occurs when this type of pressure is applied. (Sullivan)


Animal cells do not have Chloroplast, however, plant cells do.  Chloroplast is a specialized organelle of higher plant cells.  Chlorophyll (a green pigment found in almost all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria) can be found in these organelles and is what makes plants green.  Inside the stroma are other structures such as the thylakoids.  The stroma is a cell found in the loose connective tissue of an organ.  Thylakoids are a membrane-bound compartment of chloroplasts and cyanobacteria. They are what you see from the reactions of photosynthesis.  (Sullivan)


Vacuoles are generally small in Animal cells.  This organelle plays various roles in intracellular digestion and for the release of cellular waste products.  The Vacuoles store nutrients and waste products which helps increase cell size during growth. 
In plant cells vacuoles control turgor pressure in cells.  The cell walls maintain rigidity thus allow plants to be firm.  As with many things, without enough water, turgor pressure lowers and the plant can die. 

Works Cited

Krough, David. Biology - A guide to the natural world. San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2009.
—. Chapter 4: Life's Home: The Cell. 2003. 18 March 2011 <>.
Melanie, Evan and. Cytoplasm. 18 March 2011 <>.
Purchon, Nigel D. Animal and plant cells. 18 March 2011 <>.
Structure, Jennifer W. 2009. 19 March 2011 <>.
Sullivan, Jim. Cells Alive. 1994-2010. 18 March 2011 <>.