Plant and Animal Cells or Plant Cells vs Animal Cells

All living organisms are made up of cells, which may appear in different shapes, sizes, arrangements and structures. At the same time, these cells may also adapt themselves to the organisms living environment as well as to its functional requirements. These adaptations are rather prominent between plant and animal cells although there are many similarities between the two. Therefore, this article will briefly compare and contrast the plant and animal cells along with the significance of the differences observed.

What are the similarities between plant and animal cells?

Among the similarities that are noted between these two types of cells, having a cell membrane and a nucleus is the most prominent. Furthermore, both categories of cells show many variations when it comes to size, shape, color as well as its content of water. Having a cytoplasm is another common characteristic of both types while having chromosomes containing DNA or the genetic material within the nucleus is also notable.  

Functionally, both cell types require the production of energy in order to keep themselves going. However, the way they produce energy may be different between the two. Reproduction through cell division (mitosis and meiosis) can also be taken as a similarity between animal and plant cells. At the same time, both cells allow substances to pass through its membrane using various mechanisms. In addition, both types of cells produce enzymes, hormones and proteins necessary to sustain life and therefore both these cell types contain many organelles within the cytoplasm.

What are the main differences between plant and animal cells?

When considering the appearance, most animal cells are irregular in shape while plant cells maintain their shape throughout as they consist of a rigid structure. The reason for the rigidness expressed by plant cells is their cellulose cell wall which is absent in animal cells. However, animal cells can also maintain their shape through a network of microtubules and microfilaments. When it comes to deriving energy, the animal cells have to rely on the food sources and therefore derive energy through chemical breakdown of such foods. However, plant cells have the capability to produce their own energy using sunlight as it contains chloroplasts, which can produce energy through photosynthesis. During the process of cellular respiration or energy synthesis, plant cells consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen as a byproduct while the animal cells consume oxygen and release carbon dioxide as their byproduct.

Mobility of these two cells can also be different from each other, as most plant cells do not move at all. However, some plant cells can move in response to hormonal signals in certain instances. In contrast, single cellular organisms can travel using flagella and cilia, which are not present among the plant cells.

In addition, when considering the cellular organelles, animal cells contain centrioles while the number of vacuoles is significantly limited. In contrast, plant cells contain many chloroplasts and plastids as organelles in addition to the presence of large central vacuoles storing water.