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Plant Cell Vs Animal Cell

The differences between plants and animals become evident with a study of plant cell vs animal cell. This article describes what a cell is and highlights the differences between plant cell and animal cell...

Last Updated On: Tuesday, August 10, 2010


What is a Cell?
A cell can be defined as the "structural and functional unit of life". Let us understand the cell through the following analogy. Think of your school building. Each building is made up of a number of classrooms. Each classroom has four walls. Each wall is made up of bricks. Structurally, each brick is the smallest unit of your school building. So is the cell with respect to the body, that is, the structural unit. To understand the functional significance of a cell, let us consider the order of a class. Each class has a number of students. Out of these students some are monitors. These monitors report to the class teacher who looks after the overall functioning of his/her class. The smallest functional unit of a class is a student. So is the cell for the body. The bodies of both plants and animals are made of cells. However, they are not not carbon copy of each other. Our study of plant cell vs animal cell in the succeeding paragraphs will help us understand the differences between plant cell and animal cell.

Plant Cell and Animal Cell - An Overview
There are structural and functional differences between plants and animals. These are manifested in the form of plant cell and animal cell differences. However, they are not entirely dissimilar due to the fact that they are both living things and the basic requirements are the same.

Both plant and animals are eukaryotes, that is, they have a well definedcell nucleus that houses chromosomes. They both have cell membrane surrounding the cell that regulates the movement of substances in and out of the cell. The variousplant cell organelles float in the fluid called the cytoplasm which provides protection and a medium for transfer of materials within the cell. Plant cell and animal cell comparison in the table below will give us a better understanding of the difference between plant and animal cells.

Plant Cell Vs Animal Cell
A comparative study of plant cell vs animal cell is done by first providing diagrams of a plant cell and an animal cell followed by a table that lists the differences between the two.

Labeled Animal Cell Diagram

Labeled Plant Cell Diagram

Differences between plant and animal cells are summarized in the following table.


Plant Cell

Animal Cell

Cell Size


Smaller than plant cells

Cell Shape




A single centrally located vacuole. It takes up almost 90% of the cell volume. The vacuole stores water and maintains turgidity of the cell.

If any, there are a number of small vacuoles spread throughout the cytoplasm that store water, ions and waste materials.

Cell Wall

A rigid cell wall (made of cellulose) is present around a plant cell that helps it maintain its shape.

Cell wall is absent. This allows animal cells to adopt different shapes.


Present. Chlorophyll is the pigment that traps sun's energy which is utilized by plants to make food through the process of photosynthesis. This pigment is present in the chloroplasts.

Absent. As animals lack this pigment, they cannot make their own food.

Cell Division

Cell division takes place by the formation of cell plate in the center of the dividing cell. This becomes the cell wall between the two daughter cells.

Animal cells divide with the formation of a cleavage furrow. This is formed as the chromosomes move to the ends of the microtubule spindle formed by the centrioles.


Present only in lower forms. Plants instead have microtubule organizing centers (MTOC) that produce the microtubules.

Present. Centrioles help in division of animal cells by creating microtubule spindles that pull the chromosomes to opposite ends for cell division to occur.


Absent. Instead two small clear areas called polar caps are present.




Present. Lysosomes are vesicles that contain enzymes that destroy dead cell organelles and other cells debis.

Golgi Bodies

In place of golgi bodies, its sub units known as dictyosomes are present.

Complex golgi bodies are present close to the nucleus.

Other than the aforementioned differences between plant and animal cells, other organelles like nucleus, nucleolus,mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum andribosomes are present in both plant and animal cells. A more detailed study of plant cell vs animal cell would show more differences. However, the plant cell and animal cell differences discussed in the article are the major ones and are enough for us to appreciate the dissimilarities between plants and animals on the whole.


Structural and Functional Unit of Life, Plant Cell, Animal Cell, Plant Cell and Animal Cell Differences, Living Things, Eukaryotes Cell, Cytoplasm, Animal Cell Comparison, Plant Cell Comparison, Plant Cell Diagram and Functions, Nucleus, Nucleolus, Mitochondria, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Daughter Cells