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Difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell

Did you know that all current cells have evolved from the same common cell? The amazing cellular world studied by a specific branch of science, cell biology, allows us to increasingly understand the characteristics of the fundamental units of life: cells. With the help of microscopes, it has been possible to describe the variable appearance and function of cells, as well as to know their basic properties, which has allowed scientists to differentiate between two types of cells: prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

In this interesting AgroCorrn article you will find detailed information about the amazing cellular world and you will know the difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells with a comparative chart and diagrams.

Difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell – summary

The main differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are determined according to their size and the presence or absence of certain organelles and cell structures.

  • In general, we can establish that eukaryotic cells are larger (more than 10 microns) and complex compared to prokaryotes, whose size does not exceed 10 microns and have a simpler structure.
  • The cell nucleus (in which the cell’s DNA is delimited) is present only and exclusively in eukaryotic cells, as well as the cytoskeleton and other cellular organelles, such as mitochondria, chloroplasts and vacuoles.
  • On the other hand, the way of life as independent unicellular organisms is characteristic of prokaryotic cells , while, within eukaryotic cells, some live unicellular and free, while others constitute complex multicellular organisms. Learn more about this topic in this other AgroCorrn article on What are unicellular and multicellular living beings with examples .
  • Another aspect to differentiate would be reproduction, always being asexual in prokaryotic cells , while in eukaryotes there are both types of cellular reproduction processes: asexual and sexual. You can learn more about this topic with the example of Plants with asexual reproduction: characteristics and examples .

Similarities between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell – summary

Apart from the differences seen, there are also some similarities between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells :

  • Both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are the basic and fundamental units of life on Earth. Thanks to them, each and every one of the different unicellular and multicellular organisms have been able to evolve and colonize the different habitats on the planet.
  • Both types of cells are characterized by being structures delimited by membranes that inside retain their DNA or genetic information , as well as different enzymatic machinery that allows them to develop their vital functions : food, growth and reproduction.
  • To survive and evolve, eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells constantly convert energy from one form to another, in addition to maintaining a continuous relationship with their exterior, in order to respond to the different sources of chemical-biological information that they receive from the environment.

What is a eukaryotic cell – characteristics

The meaning of eukaryote comes from the Greek, where “eu” means “true” and “karyon” means “nucleus”. In this way, the main characteristic that defines eukaryotic cells is the presence of a true nucleus within their cellular structure, which delimits and maintains the cell’s DNA in an organized way.

In addition to the nucleus, among the characteristics of eukaryotic cells we find that they have a wide and complex system of cellular organelles , among which the surprising mitochondria capable of generating energy that the cell uses to feed and grow, the chloroplasts present in photosynthetic organisms stand out. , as well as the cytoskeleton responsible for cell movement and the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus, in which innumerable substances and chemical components of the cell membrane and other structures are manufactured, carried and modified.

Regarding their organization and way of life, the complex eukaryotic cells are capable of living freely as unicellular organisms (such as the amoebae of the Protista kingdom or yeast, the Fungi kingdom); as well as being able to form groups and create multicellular organisms of astonishing complexity, such as all the organisms of the kingdom Plantae and the kingdom Animalia , and some of the fungi of the kingdom Fungi .

For you to understand more about this type of cells, here is an article about the Similarity and difference between animal and plant cells and a related video.

What is a prokaryotic cell – characteristics

The prokaryotes are the most diverse cells as well as the simplest and old , if you look at the evolutionary history of living organisms. Its own name, from the Greek “pro” which means “before”, refers to its existence prior to the appearance of the other type of existing cells, the eukaryotes.

The different prokaryotic cells that have flooded with cellular life practically all the habitats of the Earth, belong to the Monera kingdom and are bacteria (Eubacteria) and archaea (Archea) . Learn more about the Monera Kingdom: what it is, characteristics, classification and examples here.

If we make use of a high-resolution electron microscope, we could observe how the interior of prokaryotic cells is practically summarized as a matrix without a well-organized internal structure, where, in a single compartment, the cytoplasm (aqueous gel in which is accumulate chemical molecules) and cellular DNA. Likewise, we could see how a resistant protective layer surrounds this compartment, it is the cell wall.

Other of the main characteristics of prokaryotic cells are their variable morphology (spherical, spiral or rod, etc.), as well as their rapid division through asexual reproduction, and their ability to exchange generic material with other organisms through certain structures present in their wall and membrane and cell.

Now that you know more about this topic, we encourage you to watch this explanatory video about the difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells so that you know more details in a practical way.

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