What is the difference between animal and plant cell?

What is it that keeps us alive? Many will say that it is oxygen, and of course they would be much of the reason, because it is impossible to exist if we cannot breathe that gas. But the truth is that the correct answer must be found within us, because O2 would be useless if we are not able to use it correctly.

Animals and plants have very different characteristics, but we all have millions and millions of cells, which work incessantly to keep our bodies functioning thanks to the oxygen we obtain from the outside and that they can identify, absorb and take advantage of so that our existence can be prolong. But how is the animal cell different from the plant cell?

What is a cell?

In order for you to better understand what we are going to explain to you, it is important before you know what a cell is. This is an anatomical unit that shapes each part of our body, and also keeps us alive . And it does so despite being very small. In fact, in order to see it you need a microscope.

Those organisms that are formed by a single cell are known as unicellular, and those that are formed by more, like multicellular. Also, depending on their characteristics, two types of cells are distinguished:

  • Prokaryotic cell : it is the simplest, since it does not have a defined nucleus and the DNA is in the membrane. For example, bacteria have this type of cell.
  • Eukaryotic cell : is one that has a nucleus wrapped in a membrane, which protects DNA, as occurs in plants, animals, and fungi.

What is DNA?

DNA is a nucleic acid which is made up of two chains that wind up forming a double helix structure. This acid is crucial for an organism to grow as a plant or as an animal for example, because it is the one that has the genetic information of the individual , inherited by its parents.

What is an animal cell?

Structure of an animal cell

The animal cell is the one that all animals have, as its name suggests. We are also multicellular organisms, being able to have, in the case of humans, hundreds of billions of them.

Its basic function is to capture the nutrients obtained by the animal from outside, to transform them into substances that will later be used to produce energy and to eliminate the waste it generates.

Parts of the animal cell

Roughly speaking , the parts of the animal cell are:

  • Core : it is the control center, where the orders are dictated thanks to which the cell will be able to function properly.
  • Cell membrane : it is a membrane that protects the cell from the outside and in which materials are exchanged.
  • Cytoskeleton : it is what shapes the cell, making it essential for its division to occur.
  • Cytoplasm : inside we find all the material of the cell, except for the nucleus. It is a substance in which much of the cellular activity occurs.

What is a plant cell?

Plant cell structure

The plant cell is the one that plants and algae have . Like the animal cell, it also has a well-defined nucleus which is in charge of keeping its genetic material or DNA protected. But she, unlike the one we have as animals, does make her own food.

For this reason, trees, palms, flowers, … in short, all the plant species that inhabit the Earth, are capable of living, some for hundreds and even thousands of years, despite the fact that they cannot move.

Plant cell parts

Its main parts are:

  • Cell wall : it is basically made of cellulose, and it is in charge of protecting the inside of the cell.
  • Membrane : contains a large part of the parts of the cell, but it is also where the exchange of substances inside and outside the cell occurs.
  • Chloroplast : it is located inside the membrane, and is where sugars are synthesized based on the absorption of carbon dioxide, water and light from the sun.
  • Nucleus : it is where the genetic material is stored, and where the instructions are issued that will guarantee the correct functioning of the cell.
  • Cytoplasm : it contains all the internal material, except the nucleus.

What are the differences between the animal and plant cells?

Differences between animal and plant cells

Image – differentiator.com

Both are, as we have seen, quite similar. But they also have important differences; not surprisingly, the same is not needed when you are a living being who can move (for example), as another who has to manage to take advantage of what is closest to him since he does not have the ability to move.

If we take this into account, when comparing them we will see that they differ in several things:


  • Centrioli : found only in animal cells. Its function is to produce and organize the filaments (flagella and cilia) that will be necessary during cell division.
  • Vacuole : both have one, but that of animal cells is much smaller. In the case of plants, the vacuole is the main responsible for growth, so more nutrients are stored, and also more waste products.
  • Chloroplasts : they only have plant cells. They are the ones that transform the sun’s energy into chemical energy, something that happens during photosynthesis.
  • Cell wall : also only plant cells have it.



As far as functions are concerned, surely the most notable is that the plant cell produces its own food . It does this in chloroplasts, some organelles responsible for photosynthesis. As a result of this process, animals can breathe oxygen, since this is a gas that is expelled by the leaves.


Another notable difference is the ability of vegetables to reproduce asexually . Not all of them are capable of doing this, but for example plants such as wisteria ( Wisteria sinensis ) or rose bushes, can be multiplied by cuttings since their cells will divide rapidly, allowing the emission and development of roots. These will preserve the genetic material they have always had, so they are very useful when you want to multiply a specimen with exceptional characteristics without them being lost.

Animals, by contrast, only reproduce sexually . The descendants will have characteristics of their parents, but in no case will they be identical to them.

Cellular division

Cell division is closely related to reproduction; not in vain, for a living being to grow and develop, the cells must divide. But in the case of plants and animals, this process is a little different.

In order for an animal cell to divide in two, its membrane is strangled. On the contrary, so that the plant cell can divide, what happens is that a kind of septum is formed , which will end up forming part of the cell wall.

View of plant cells

What did you think of this topic? We hope you have learned a lot about the differences between animal and plant cells.

What is the difference between animal and plant cell?

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