One can only marvel at the intricate manifestation of life forms on earth. All living organisms are made up of cells, but not all organisms are the same now, are they? Cells come in all shapes and sizes, but there are two kinds of cells that are constantly subject to the comparison; plant cells and animal cells.
Despite the fact that they both belong to the eukaryotic family, animal and plant cells have several differences that pretty much establish their functional roles.
What are Animal Cells?
We need to come to terms with our classification among “animals” when it comes to biology; human cells are considered “animal cells” in the study.
Animal cells have an irregular shape that can be rather circular, and they constitute your basic cellular structure. They have a cell membrane that engulfs this nutrient-filled space called the cytoplasm. Naturally, animal cells have a nucleus that contains all of our DNA and a nucleolus.
The nucleolus is responsible for the formation of ribosomal subunits which are then sent out into the cytoplasm to form ribosomes. Other than the nucleus, several cell organelles are found in the cytoplasm including the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell), the endoplasmic reticulum (rough and smooth), and the Golgi apparatus.
The mitochondria are very important for animal cells as it constitutes their main source of energy; energy production occurs through a process called “cellular respiration” and it is wholly dependent on food (glucose).
What are Plant Cells?
As we’ve mentioned before, plant cells are also classified as eukaryotes. Due to that, there are several similar aspects between animal and plant cells; both cells have a cell membrane, cytoplasm, a nucleus, and cell organelles, but the similarities stop there.
In addition to their cellular membrane, plant cells have a cell wall and are generally larger than your average animal cell. They also have a somewhat rectangular shape which makes for a distinctive feature when studying cellular forms.
Plant cells are autotrophic meaning they perform this process called photosynthesis in order to attain energy; unlike animal cells, plant cells contain chloroplast which, in turn, contains chlorophyll. This chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and makes this entire process possible.
What’s The Need for The Mitochondrial then?
The mitochondria break down nutrients like carbohydrates in order to produce energy for the cell. Animal cells are able to acquire carbohydrates, for example, by eating other organisms. Plant cells, however, can’t.
What plant cells do is that they transform CO2 and H2O into carbohydrates through their chloroplast and then transform those carbohydrates into energy through their mitochondria.
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Differences between Plant and Animal cells
Here is a plant cell vs. animal cell table to help you pinpoint the major differences between them:
|cell wall and cell membrane||cell membrane|
|No centriole and no nucleolus||Centriole and nucleolus|
|One big vacuole for storing water||Several small vacuoles for storing ions, waste, and water|
|Present chloroplast for photosynthesis||No chloroplast|
|Generally large and rectangular in shape||Generally small and round/circular in shape|