Difference Between Animal and Plant Cell

Figure: Animal Cell and Plant Cell (Image Source: domdomegg, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Detailed Difference Between Animal and Plant Cell

In the study of cell biology, understanding the distinction between plant and animal cells is crucial. Plant and animal cells possess both similarities and notable differences, making it essential to examine their contrasting features. Class 9, Class 11, and Class 8 students often explore the difference between plant and animal cell types, with detailed explanations. A comparative analysis of plant and animal cells, accompanied by diagrams, helps visualize their unique characteristics. Topics such as cell division, including mitosis and meiosis, further emphasize the disparities between these cell types.

For those preparing for UPSC exams, exploring the variances between plant and animal cells proves to be beneficial. By identifying and understanding these differences in points, students can gain a comprehensive understanding of the contrasting properties of plant and animal cells. The table below provides 30 differences between animal and plant cell. At the end of the article, you will be able to know how does plant cell differs from animal cell. There is an explanation with each point detailing how is plant cell different from animal cell in the respective criteria.

Table: Difference Plant Cell and Animal Cell

Serial NumberPlant CellAnimal Cell
1Cell wall presentCell wall absent
ExplanationPlant cells have a rigid cell wall composed of cellulose, providing structural support and protection.Animal cells lack a cell wall, allowing for more flexibility and mobility.
2Chloroplasts presentChloroplasts absent
ExplanationPlant cells contain chloroplasts, specialized organelles that carry out photosynthesis and produce energy-rich molecules.Animal cells do not possess chloroplasts and rely on external sources for energy.
3Large central vacuole presentSmall, multiple vacuoles or no central vacuole
ExplanationPlant cells typically have a large central vacuole, which plays a role in maintaining cell turgidity, storage, and waste disposal.Animal cells may have small vacuoles scattered throughout the cytoplasm, serving various storage or transport functions, but lack a prominent central vacuole.
4Plasmodesmata presentGap junctions or tight junctions present
ExplanationPlant cells are interconnected by plasmodesmata, channels that allow direct communication and transport of substances between adjacent cells.Animal cells rely on gap junctions or tight junctions, specialized structures that facilitate communication and cell adhesion between neighboring cells.
5Rectangular or fixed shapeIrregular or flexible shape
ExplanationPlant cells often have a fixed shape and maintain a rectangular or box-like morphology due to the rigid cell wall.Animal cells possess a more flexible and irregular shape, allowing them to change their shape for various functions, such as cell movement and tissue deformation.
6Lysosomes less prominent or absentProminent lysosomes for intracellular digestion
ExplanationPlant cells have fewer lysosomes or lack them entirely, as their functions for intracellular digestion are primarily carried out by vacuoles.Animal cells contain prominent lysosomes, membrane-bound organelles responsible for the breakdown of macromolecules and cellular waste.
7Plastids presentPlastids absent
ExplanationPlant cells contain various types of plastids, including chloroplasts for photosynthesis, chromoplasts for pigment synthesis, and amyloplasts for starch storage.Animal cells lack plastids and do not have specialized organelles for pigment synthesis or starch storage.
8Nucleus located at the peripheryNucleus located centrally
ExplanationThe nucleus of a plant cell is typically found near the periphery, as it is pushed to the edge due to the large central vacuole.The nucleus of an animal cell is centrally located within the cytoplasm.
9No centrosomeCentrosome present
ExplanationPlant cells do not have centrosomes, which are involved in cell division and the organization of microtubules.Animal cells possess a centrosome, consisting of a pair of centrioles and plays a crucial role in cell division.
10Pectin and hemicellulose in cell wallNo pectin or hemicellulose in cell wall
ExplanationPlant cell walls contain pectin and hemicellulose, complex carbohydrates that contribute to the flexibility and strength of the cell wall.Animal cells lack pectin and hemicellulose in their cell walls, which are primarily composed of proteins and lipids.
11Plasmodesmata-mediated cytoplasmic continuityGap junctions-mediated intercellular communication
ExplanationPlant cells utilize plasmodesmata to establish cytoplasmic continuity between adjacent cells, facilitating the exchange of molecules and communication.Animal cells rely on gap junctions, specialized protein channels that allow direct communication and the passage of small molecules between adjacent cells.
12Amyloplasts for starch storageNo specialized organelles for starch storage
ExplanationPlant cells contain amyloplasts, plastids specialized in storing starch, which serves as a long-term energy reserve.Animal cells lack specialized organelles for starch storage and rely on glycogen or lipids for energy storage.
13Cellulose microfibrils in the cell wallNo cellulose microfibrils in the extracellular matrix
ExplanationPlant cell walls are composed of cellulose microfibrils, providing strength and rigidity to the cell wall structure.Animal cells do not have cellulose microfibrils in their extracellular matrix but may have other components like collagen or elastin for structural support.
14Secondary cell wall formationNo secondary cell wall formation
ExplanationPlant cells have the ability to develop a secondary cell wall, which provides additional strength and protection, especially in specialized tissues like xylem and sclerenchyma.Animal cells do not produce a secondary cell wall, as their primary focus is maintaining flexibility for movement and tissue function.
15Photosynthetic organellesNo photosynthetic organelles
ExplanationPlant cells possess chloroplasts, specialized organelles that carry out photosynthesis, enabling them to produce energy-rich molecules from sunlight.Animal cells lack photosynthetic organelles and cannot perform photosynthesis, relying on external sources for energy production.
16Plasmodesmata-mediated movement of substancesExtracellular matrix-mediated movement of substances
ExplanationPlant cells utilize plasmodesmata to transport molecules and facilitate communication between neighboring cells.Animal cells rely on the extracellular matrix and intercellular spaces to allow movement of substances between cells, such as oxygen, nutrients, and signaling molecules.
17No specialized contact inhibitionExhibits specialized contact inhibition
ExplanationPlant cells do not exhibit specialized contact inhibition, allowing them to continue growing and dividing in close proximity to neighboring cells.Animal cells demonstrate contact inhibition, which prevents excessive cell growth and division when they come into contact with neighboring cells.
18Storage of starch as the main energy reserveStorage of glycogen as the main energy reserve
ExplanationPlant cells store energy in the form of starch, a polysaccharide, in specialized organelles called amyloplasts.Animal cells store energy in the form of glycogen, a highly branched polysaccharide, primarily in the liver and muscle cells.
19No lysosomes or peroxisomesContains lysosomes and peroxisomes
ExplanationPlant cells have limited or no lysosomes and peroxisomes, organelles involved in intracellular digestion and metabolic processes.Animal cells contain lysosomes and peroxisomes, which are responsible for digestion, waste disposal, and various metabolic reactions.
20Cell plate formation during cell division
(See diagram below)
Cleavage furrow formation during cell division
(See diagram below)
ExplanationPlant cells form a cell plate during cytokinesis, which develops into a new cell wall, separating the two daughter cells.Animal cells undergo cytokinesis through the formation of a cleavage furrow, which constricts and pinches off to divide the cell into two daughter cells.
21Plastids involved in pigment synthesisNo specialized organelles for pigment synthesis
ExplanationPlant cells contain chromoplasts, plastids responsible for synthesizing and storing pigments such as chlorophyll and carotenoids, giving plants their vibrant colors.Animal cells lack specialized plastids for pigment synthesis and rely on external sources for pigmentation.
22Cellulose synthesis by enzyme complexesNo cellulose synthesis by enzyme complexes
ExplanationPlant cells have enzyme complexes in the plasma membrane responsible for synthesizing cellulose, the primary component of their cell walls.Animal cells do not produce cellulose, as they lack the necessary enzyme complexes for cellulose synthesis.
23No specialized flagella or ciliaPresence of specialized flagella or cilia
ExplanationPlant cells lack specialized flagella or cilia, which are involved in cell motility and movement of substances.Some animal cells possess specialized flagella or cilia, enabling them to move or facilitate fluid flow in the surrounding environment.
24Presence of plasmids in certain speciesNo presence of plasmids
ExplanationPlant cells, particularly in certain species like bacteria or algae, may contain plasmids, small circular DNA molecules that can confer additional traits or genetic information.Animal cells do not naturally contain plasmids; they are more commonly found in prokaryotic organisms.
25Vacuoles can occupy a significant portion of the cell volumeVacuoles occupy a smaller portion of the cell volume
ExplanationPlant cells often have large central vacuoles that can occupy a substantial portion of the cell volume, providing structural support, storage, and maintaining turgor pressure.Animal cells have smaller vacuoles that may serve various functions such as storage, transport, or maintaining cell homeostasis but occupy a smaller fraction of the cell volume compared to plant cells.
26Storage of lipids in specialized organellesLipid storage occurs in cytoplasmic droplets
ExplanationPlant cells can store lipids in specialized organelles called oleosomes or lipid bodies.Animal cells store lipids in the form of cytoplasmic lipid droplets, which can serve as an energy reserve or insulation.
27Plastids involved in the synthesis of essential compoundsNo involvement of organelles in the synthesis of essential compounds
ExplanationPlant cells’ plastids, such as chloroplasts, synthesize essential compounds like amino acids, fatty acids, and hormones.Animal cells rely on other organelles, such as mitochondria, peroxisomes,
28Nucleoli dispersed throughout the nucleusNucleoli concentrated in one or more regions of the nucleus
ExplanationIn plant cells, nucleoli are dispersed throughout the nucleus, responsible for the production of ribosomes.Animal cells typically have one or more nucleoli that are concentrated in specific regions of the nucleus, involved in ribosome biogenesis.
29Presence of plasmodesmata allows for direct cell-to-cell communicationCommunication between animal cells occurs through chemical signals and synapses
ExplanationPlant cells are interconnected through plasmodesmata, channels that enable direct exchange of molecules and communication between adjacent cells.Communication between animal cells primarily occurs through chemical signaling and specialized structures such as synapses in the nervous system.
30Cellulose microfibrils aligned in a specific patternExtracellular matrix components provide structural support
ExplanationCellulose microfibrils in the plant cell wall are arranged in a specific pattern, providing strength and rigidity to the cell wall structure.Animal cells lack cellulose microfibrils, and their structural support comes from extracellular matrix components such as collagen, elastin, and fibronectin.

Differences between plant and animal cell division:

Figure: Difference between Animal cell and Plant Cell division (Image source: MathildaBrinton, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons) 

Structural differences between animal and plant cell: 

1-Cell Wall: Plant cells have a rigid cell wall composed of cellulose, which provides structural support and protection. Animal cells lack a cell wall.

2-Shape: Plant cells are typically rectangular or square in shape due to their rigid cell wall. Animal cells have a more varied shape, often irregular or round.

3-Chloroplasts: Plant cells contain chloroplasts, which are responsible for photosynthesis. Animal cells do not possess chloroplasts.

Figure: Ultrastructure of the chloroplast (Image source: Kelvinsong, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons )

4-Vacuoles: Plant cells have a large central vacuole that occupies a significant portion of the cell’s interior. Animal cells may have smaller vacuoles or none at all.

5-Centrioles: Animal cells contain centrioles, which are involved in cell division and the formation of the mitotic spindle. Plant cells lack centrioles.

Figure: Centriole in the animal Cell (Image source: Kelvinsong, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

6-Plasmodesmata: Plant cells are connected by plasmodesmata, which are cytoplasmic channels that allow communication and transportation of substances between neighboring cells. Animal cells do not have plasmodesmata.

Figure: Plant cell plasmodesmata (Image source: CNX OpenStax, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

7-Lysosomes: Animal cells have numerous lysosomes, which are involved in intracellular digestion and waste removal. Plant cells have fewer lysosomes or do not have them at all.

8-Size: Plant cells are generally larger than animal cells.

9-Nucleus Position: In animal cells, the nucleus is typically centrally located. In plant cells, the nucleus is often located near the periphery due to the presence of a large central vacuole.

10-Cytoplasmic Streaming: Plant cells may exhibit cytoplasmic streaming, where the cytoplasm moves within the cell. Animal cells do not display significant cytoplasmic streaming.

Figure: Cytoplasmic streaming

These structural differences highlight the distinctive characteristics of animal and plant cells, contributing to their specific functions and adaptations within living organisms.

Functional differences between Animal and Plant cells include:

1-Photosynthesis: Plant cells contain chloroplasts and are capable of photosynthesis, converting sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into glucose and oxygen. Animal cells lack chloroplasts and cannot perform photosynthesis.

2-Cell Wall Function: The cell wall in plant cells provides structural support and protection, maintaining the cell’s shape and preventing it from bursting under osmotic pressure. Animal cells do not have a cell wall.

3-Nutrient Acquisition: Plant cells can absorb nutrients from the soil through their root systems. Animal cells obtain nutrients through ingestion and digestion of food.

4-Storage of Energy: Plant cells store energy in the form of starch, which is synthesized during photosynthesis and stored in specialized organelles called amyloplasts. Animal cells store energy in the form of glycogen, which is stored in the cytoplasm and liver.

5-Movement: Animal cells are capable of various types of movement, including amoeboid movement, ciliary movement, and muscular contraction. Plant cells have limited mobility and do not exhibit similar types of movement.

6-Reproduction: Animal cells reproduce through various methods, including sexual reproduction and cell division (mitosis). Plant cells can reproduce through sexual reproduction, but they also have the ability to reproduce asexually through processes such as vegetative propagation.

7-Response to Stimuli: Animal cells have a higher degree of sensitivity and can respond rapidly to external stimuli through the nervous system, allowing for complex behaviors. Plant cells have more limited response mechanisms, mainly through tropisms and growth responses.

8-Respiration: Animal cells undergo cellular respiration in mitochondria to produce energy in the form of ATP. Plant cells also perform cellular respiration but can switch to aerobic respiration in the presence of oxygen or undergo anaerobic respiration in the absence of oxygen.

9-Transportation of Water and Nutrients: Plant cells have specialized structures, such as xylem and phloem, that facilitate the transport of water, minerals, and nutrients throughout the plant. Animal cells rely on the circulatory system to transport nutrients and oxygen to different tissues.

10-Cell Communication: Animal cells use a complex system of chemical signaling, including hormones and neurotransmitters, for communication between cells and coordination of physiological processes. Plant cells communicate through chemical signals, such as plant hormones and electrical signals through plasmodesmata.

These functional differences reflect the distinct biological roles and adaptations of animal and plant cells in living organisms.


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