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Plant Cell v/s Animal Cell

UserMark time21 May,2019

WHAT CAME FIRST? – the CHICKEN OR THE EGG? The question as silly as it may sound every time it is asked, is very much relevant. Well if the chicken did come first, where did it hatch from? And, if the egg came first, then who laid the egg? It is a labyrinthine concept, and there is no way out of the puzzling bends and turns. So who knows the answer? Biology does. Biology is the only subject where you can find the answer to the intricate and quite often funny questions. The answer roots to cell development. From microorganisms to human beings, from planktons to mature trees – cell is the core of the magic of evolution. So what is a cell, and how does it function in animals and plants?

Plant Cell vs Animal Cell

Let us together unearth all the details that we need to know about the plant cells and the animal cells.

WHAT ARE PLANT CELLS?

Plant cells are eukaryotic cells, i.e. cells that have a nucleus which is bound by a membrane. The DNA of the plant cell is enclosed within the nucleus of a cell. Generally, plant cells are rectangular or cube-shaped, and they are larger than animal cells. Do you know that plant cells have a cell membrane with an outer lining called the cell wall? The cell wall is the most prominent feature of the plant cell, thus making it an exceptional eukaryotic cell. The cell wall is made up of cellulose and enzymes. Plants cells also contain several other cellular structures within itself which carry out specific functions, necessary for a plant’s survival. They produce hormones, enzymes, and other metabolic activities in a plant cell.

  • Plant cells contain structures like the cell wall, plastids, and large vacuoles other than the nucleus.
  • The cell wall provides structural support and rigidity to the plant cells.
  • The storage of plant products in the plant cells is carried out by plastids. 
  • Chloroplasts are responsible for carrying out photosynthesis in plants which helps them produce food. 
  • The vacuoles help in the storage of water, minerals and other useful materials. 

The function of the parts of a plant cell – what do the various cell structures do?

Every part of the plant cell operates in tandem to ensure the proper functioning of the cell. Here is the role that each component plays.

The Cell wall

The cell wall surrounds the plant cells like a rigid layer. It consists of 3 layers: the primary cell wall, the secondary cell wall and the middle lamella. Located outside the cell membrane, it provides rigidity, strength, and protection against stress and infection.

The Cell membrane

The outer boundary of the cell, the cell membrane encloses the cytoplasm and other organelles of a plant cell. It is semi-permeable and allows growth-inducing minerals to pass through while blocking other materials.

Chloroplasts

Chloroplasts have two membranes and have structures that look like stacked coins. It is an elongated organelle that contains the chemical chlorophyll. The chlorophyll is the green pigment that gives colour to the leaves. It absorbs sunlight and helps in the process of photosynthesis by converting light energy into chemical energy. 

WHAT ARE ANIMAL CELLS?

Animal cells are eukaryotic cells with a nucleus in the centre and specialized organelles. Like plants, the organelles carry out different types of growth-sustaining functions. However, unlike plant cells, animal cells do not have cell walls or chloroplasts.

The features of an animal cell are as follows:  

  • The nucleus contains the genetic material or the DNA which controls all the activities of a human body. The nucleus regulates the genes, which instead controls the cell's activity and functioning.
  • The cells also contain organelles called centrosomes, which help organize DNA during cell division.
  • The cells also contain ribosomes where proteins are synthesized.
  • The endoplasmic reticulum is a maze of membranous sacs called cisternae which modifies and transports proteins made by ribosomes.
  • Vesicles transport molecules throughout the cell from one organelle to another and are also involved in metabolism.
  • The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell that host the process of cellular respiration.

The function of the parts of an animal cell – what do the various parts of the cell do?

The cell membrane surrounds the entire cell and is made up of phospholipids. Phospholipids are molecules with a phosphate head that are attached to glycerol and two tails of fatty acid. They form double membranes in water due to hydrophilic properties of the phosphate head and the hydrophobic properties of fatty acids. The cell membrane is selectively permeable and allows molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through easily. It obstructs charged molecules mostly but allows some to pass through a special channel in the membrane, thus maintaining homeostasis within the cell.

Animal cells carry out all the bodily processes like production and storage of energy, creation of proteins, replication of the DNA, and transportation of molecules through the body. As discussed earlier, you already know that every cell organelle performs its particular task.Unlike in plants, the human body contains 200 different types of cells. The red blood cells contain haemoglobin, which carries oxygen.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST OF PLANT CELLS VS ANIMAL CELLS

What are the similarities between plant cells and animal cells?

Structurally, the plant cell and the animal cell have several behavioural similarities as they are both eukaryotic cells. They both contain organelles that are membrane-bound like the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, Golgi, lysosomes, and peroxisomes. Both the animal and plant cells also contain similar membranes made up of cytosol, and cytoskeletal elements. When it comes to functional properties, the role of the organelles in plant and animal cells are extremely similar too.

However, there are a few differences that exist between plant cells and animals cells.

What are the differences between plant cells and animal cells?

Plant cells are usually larger than animal cells. The normal range for a plant cell varies between 10 to 100 micrometres. However, an animal cell has a range of 10 to 30 micrometres. The differences go beyond size too.

Here are the main structural differences between plant and animal cells.

Do animal cells have chloroplasts?

First and foremost, chloroplasts are required by plants to make their food. However, animals consume food externally rather than making their own food inside the body. Therefore, there is no need for chloroplasts in animals.

How do the plant and animal cells derive energy?

In animals, the mitochondria produce the majority of the cellular energy from food. However, it does not have the same function in plant cells. Plant cells use sunlight as their primary source energy, and it is chloroplasts that carry out energy conversion through a complex set of reactions.

Do animals have a cell wall?

No, the animal cells do not have the cell wall. This is one of the most significant structural differences in the study of plant cells vs animal cells. As you already know, plant cells have a rigid cell wall that forms an outer lining after the cell membrane. This wall is made up of fats and sugars and ranges from 0.1 to 10 micrometres in thickness.

Do animal cells have vacuoles?

No. Vacuoles are organelles that are found only in plant cells. They act as a space-filler in the plant cells and also have digestive functions. They contain several enzymes that perform diverse functions. Plants use the interiors of vacuoles as storage space for nutrients.

Here is a table that shows the similarities and differences between plant cells and animal cells at a glance.

Cell Organelles Plant Cell Animal Cell
Cell Wall Present Absent
Cell Membrane Present Present
Cell Nucleus Present Present
Mitochondria Present Present
Ribosomes Present Present
Endoplasmic Reticulum Present Present
Golgi Apparatus Present Present
Chloroplast Present Absent
Vacuole Present Present
Centrioles Absent Present
Lysosomes Absent Present

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