From the tiny beings that multiply in a drop of water, through plants, to the largest animals that we can imagine; They are made up of cells. But, due to its nature, there are basic differences between an animal cell and a plant cell that we will review in the following lines.
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What is a cell?
The basic unit from which all living beings are composed, regardless of their structural complexity, is the cell.
Despite the differences between animal and plant cells, both microorganisms are organized to configure the different structures that determine all species of flora and fauna .
Similarity between animal cell and plant cell
Whether they are of one type or another, both types of cells are what is known as ‘eukaryotes’, that is, they have a differentiated cytoplasm, which separates them from each other. Inside, eukaryotic cells are composed of a membrane, an endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria and a central nucleus (where genetic information is stored).
However,We will soon see that the differences between animal and plant cells that make them distinguishable soon come to light.
8 differences between animal and plant cells
Many of the following differences between an animal cell and a plant cell are perceptible just by looking at them through a microscope, so it will be easy to detect their origin.
1. Different shapes
The first difference between plant and animal cells is their shape: plant cells are somewhat rectangular in shape, although their angles are not perfectly delimited; while the animals are rather rounded and inexact.
2. Exterior cover
As we said above, althoughboth kinds of cells are separated from the outside by a membrane that delimits them , another obvious difference between animal and plant cells is in what is called ‘cell wall’. In the first case, they do not have a cell wall, a structure that the latter do.
The plant cell wall is made up of cellulose and gives extra protection to each unit, as it covers the cell above the membrane. In addition to plants, other living things such as fungi and bacteria are composed of cells with a cell wall.
However, this does not mean that animal cells are unprotected, since instead of this “shield”, they have what is called the ‘extracellular matrix’ , a structure that performs the same protective function.
3. Ways of reproducing
If we look at the way of multiplying, we will find another of the most significant differences between animal and plant cells.
An animal cell, in order to reproduce, strangles itself until it splits in half, the result of which is two identical cells with the same genetic material.
The process of dividing plant cells, on the other hand, is carried out by forming a wall inside them that will delimit the new cell from its original one.
4. Animal and plant cells are made up of different organelles
Cells are composed of structures that enable them to carry out their functions. Now, although we have seen that they share basic features in common at this level (nucleus, mitochondria and membrane, among others), we find more differences between animal and plant cells in some of their essential organelles.
The chemical process by which plants capture sunlight to transform it into energy, photosynthesis, is possible thanks to the presence of these organelles in plant cells. Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll, the photoreceptor pigment that gives them that green color , so characteristic of flora species.
The absence of chloroplasts is one of the most relevant differences between animal and plant cells.
4.2. Autotrophic nutrition and heterotrophic nutrition
The presence or absence of chloroplasts in its composition has a direct consequence on the type of nutrition that one type or another of cells follows . In this way, we will talk about autotrophic cells to refer to plant cells, and heterotrophic cells, to talk about those of animal origin.
This way of obtaining food that differentiates an animal cell from a plant cell is that the autotrophs are capable of converting inorganic matter (essentially, H20, carbon dioxide and mineral salts) into their own food, using sunlight as a source of energy. energy to metabolize these ingredients.
On the other hand, heterotrophic cells need the organic matter of other living beings as sustenance, so they cannot make it themselves.
Just as plant cells are provided with chloroplasts to be able to nourish themselves, animal cells have an equivalent with a similar function: the lysosome.
As they do not have a cell wall either, and due to their need to obtain their source of supply of organic matter, animal cells use a process called phagocytosis , by which substances from abroad cross the cell membrane. Once inside the cell, to disintegrate them and be able to be absorbed, the intervention of the lysosomes is required, the proteins in charge of it.
5. A slightly different cytoskeleton
In the cytoskeleton, although it is a shared structure, lies another of the differences between animal cells and plant cells.
The former have a type of organelle called ‘centriole’, which allows the cell to move, thanks to the flagella and cilia. In opposition to these, plant cells lack centrioles , since the fact of having the cell wall makes it impossible for them to move.
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