Difference between Plant Cell and Animal Cell

The cell is the basic functional, structural and biological unit of all organisms. They are the smallest units of life and can replicate themselves, therefore also known as are known as building blocks of life. There are two types of cells, namely Eukaryotic (plants, animals, fungi, algae etc) and Prokaryotic (bacteria and archaea).

In ecology, plants have the role of creators while animals have taken the role of consumers. Hence, their daily functions and activities vary, so do their cell structure. There is quite a lot of difference between plant cell and animal cell. Plant cell and animal cell structure are primarily classified based on their functions. In order to understand their difference we have to understand Cell structure and function of Animal cell and Plant cell in detail. The difference in their cell composition is the major reason behind the difference between plants and animals structure.

Plant Cell Structure 

Plant cells are a type of eukaryotic cell. Plant cell structure includes various components known as cell organelles that perform different functions to sustain. These organelles include cell wall, cell membrane, nucleus, plastids, central vacuole, Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, mitochondria and lysosome.

Diagram of a Typical Plant Cell

Blog_Difference between Plant Cell and Animal Cell_1

Plant Cell Functions

Cells of a matured plant become dedicated to performing certain essential functions that are necessary for their survival. Few plant cells are involved in the transportation of nutrients and water, while others for storing food. The dedicated plant cells include collenchyma cells, phloem cells, parenchyma, sclerenchyma cells and xylem cells.

  1. Collenchyma Cells

They are elongated cells with thick walls that provide support and structure to the plants. These cells are often found on the outer layer of cells in leaf veins and young stems.

  1. Phloem Cells

Phloem is a complex cell, which acts as a transport system for soluble organic compounds within vascular plants.

  1. Parenchyma Cells

They are composed of living thin-walled cells, which are involved in the production of leaves. They are also involved in the storage of organic products, production of food, cell metabolism and exchange of gases. 

  1. Sclerenchyma Cells

These are dead cells that have heavily thickened secondary walls containing lignin. They are non-stretchable and rigid and are usually found in non-growing regions of plant bodies like the mature stems or bark. 

  1. Xylem Cells

These are the transport cells in the vascular plant. They help transport water and dissolved minerals from the roots to the rest of the plant.

Animal Cell Structure

Animal cells are usually smaller than plant cells. It has an irregular shape due to the lack of a cell wall. A typical animal cell comprises the cell organelles that include cell membrane, nuclear membrane, nucleus, centrosome, lysosome, cytoplasm, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, ribosome, vacuole and endoplasmic reticulum.

Diagram of a Typical Animal Cell

Animal cell diagram

Animal Cell Functions

There are numerous types of animal cells, specially designed to perform specific functions. Below-mentioned is the most common types of animal cells.

  1. Skin Cells

There are two main types of skin cells: keratinocytes and melanocytes. Keratinocytes produce a protein called “keratin” and make about 90% of all skin cells. Melanocytes produce “melanin” which gives skin its colour.

  1. Bone Cells

These cells are responsible for making the bones and skeleton of animals. It gives structural support and helps in the movement of the body.

  1. Muscle Cells

Muscle cells help move an animal’s organs and limbs. There are skeleton muscle cells, smooth muscle cells, and cardiac muscle cells.

  1. Blood Cells

There are red blood cells and white blood cells. Red blood cells make up over 99% of all blood cells and their job is to deliver oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Whereas white blood cells help organisms fight infection and disease by killing bacteria.

  1. Nerve Cells

These cells are the messages or signals that help the body to perform its function. It is sent from the sensory receptors and central nervous system.

  1. Fat Cells

Fat cells store fats and lipids as energy reserves to help give the body power. White fat cells have one large lipid drop within them, whereas brown fat cells have multiple, smaller droplets throughout the cell.

Plant Cell and Animal Cell Organelles

Even though all living organisms are made of cells that contain similar structures, there are differences between the structures of the cells of plants and animals.

Every cell organelle has a specific function to perform. There are a few cell organelles that are available in both plant cell and animal cell, while others are remarkable to only one. The majority of the world’s higher organisms are eukaryotes, including all plant and animals. Consequently, these cells share a few similitudes commonly associated with eukaryotes.

For instance, all eukaryotic cells comprise a nucleus, cytoplasm, plasma membrane, mitochondria, peroxisomes, ribosomes and other cell organelles.

Difference between a Plant Cell and Animal Cell

The difference in their cell composition is the reason behind the difference between plants and animals, their structure and functions. The major difference between a plant cell and an animal cell are tabulated below.

Plant Cell Animal Cell
Cell Shape
Square or rectangular in shape Irregular or round in shape
Cell Wall
Present Absent
Plasma/Cell Membrane
Present Present
Endoplasmic Reticulum
Present Present
Nucleus
Present and lies on one side of the cell Present and lies in the centre of the cell
Lysosomes
Present but are very rare Present
Centrosomes
Absent Present
Golgi Apparatus
Present Present
Cytoplasm
Present Present
Ribosomes
Present Present
Plastids
Present Absent
Vacuoles
Few large or a single, centrally positioned vacuole Usually small and numerous
Cilia
Absent Present in most of the animal cells
Mitochondria
Present but fewer in number Present and are numerous
Mode of Nutrition
Primarily autotrophic Heterotrophic

Difference between the plant cell and animal cell is an important topic of class 8 Science course also in higher classes. Discover other important topics of NCERT Class 8 Science Chapter 8 with Extramarks.

FAQs about Difference between Plant Cell and Animal Cell

  • What is the difference between plant cell and animal cell in terms of plastids?

Plant cells have plastids whereas animal cells do not have plastids.

  • Why plant cells are larger in size as compared to the animal cells?

Plant cells comprise a large central vacuole that occupies a majority of the volume and makes the cell larger. This vacuole is usually absent in the animal cell.

  • Why Mitochondria are called the power house of the cell?

Mitochondria are tiny organelles that are responsible for extracting energy from food through cellular respiration. That is why Mitochondria are often referred as the powerhouse of the cell.

  • Why plant cell has a cell wall and animal cell do not?

Plant cells have cell wall because plants do not move from one place to another and hence they require rigidity which is provided by the cell wall. The cell wall, if present in the animal cell, will be a hindrance to movement.

  • What cell organelles are found in plant cell?

The organelles found only in plant cells are chloroplast, plastids, cell wall, and a large central vacuole. The chloroplasts contain a green pigment called chlorophyll that is responsible for the process of photosynthesis.