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  • Eukaryotic Cell vs. Prokaryotic Cell

    Compare Anything Animal Cell vs. Plant Cell GO

    Diffen Science Biology Cellular Biology

    The distinction between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is considered to be

    the most important distinction among groups of organisms. Eukaryotic cells

    contain membrane-bound organelles, such as the nucleus, while prokaryotic

    cells do not. Differences in cellular structure of prokaryotes and eukaryotes

    include the presence of mitochondria and chloroplasts, the cell wall, and the

    structure of chromosomal DNA.

    Prokaryotes were the only form of life on Earth for millions of years until

    more complicated eukaryotic cells came into being through the process of


    Comparison chart

    Differences Similarities

    Eukaryotic Cell Prokaryotic Cell

    Nucleus Present Absent

    Number of


    More than one One--but not true chromosome:


    Cell Type

    Usually multicellular Usually unicellular (some

    cyanobacteria may be


    True Membrane

    bound Nucleus

    Present Absent

    Example Animals and Plants Bacteria and Archaea



    Meiosis and fusion of gametes Partial, undirectional transfers


    Lysosomes and


    Present Absent

    Microtubules Present Absent or rare



    Present Absent

    Mitochondria Present Absent

    Cytoskeleton Present May be absent

    Eukaryotes wrap their DNA Multiple proteins act together to

  • DNA wrapping

    on proteins.

    around proteins called histones. fold and condense prokaryotic

    DNA. Folded DNA is then

    organized into a variety of

    conformations that are

    supercoiled and wound around

    tetramers of the HU protein.

    Ribosomes larger smaller

    Vesicles Present Present

    Golgi apparatus Present Absent

    ChloroplastsPresent (in plants) Absent; chlorophyll scattered in

    the cytoplasm


    Microscopic in size; membrane

    bound; usually arranged as nine

    doublets surrounding two singlets

    Submicroscopic in size, composed

    of only one fiber

    Permeability of



    Selective not present


    membrane with


    Yes Usually no

    Cell wallOnly in plant cells and fungi

    (chemically simpler)

    Usually chemically complexed

    Vacuoles Present Present

    Cell size 10-100um 1-10um

    Definition of eukaryotes and prokaryotes

    Prokaryotes (pro-KAR-ee-ot-es) (from Old Greek pro- before + karyon nut or

    kernel, referring to the cell nucleus, + suffix -otos, pl. -otes; also spelled

    "procaryotes") are organisms without a cell nucleus (= karyon), or any other

    membrane-bound organelles. Most are unicellular, but some prokaryotes are


    Eukaryotes (IPA: [jukt]) are organisms whose cells are organized into

    complex structures by internal membranes and a cytoskeleton. The most

    characteristic membrane bound structure is the nucleus. This feature gives them

    their name, (also spelled "eucaryote,") which comes from the Greek , meaning

    good/true, and , meaning nut, referring to the nucleus. Animals, plants,

    fungi, and protists are eukaryotes.

    Differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells

    The difference between the structure of prokaryotes and eukaryotes is so great

    that it is considered to be the most important distinction among groups of


    Up next

    Plant cells vs. Animal cells


  • Structure and contents of a

    typical Gram positive bacterial cell

    (a prokaryotic cell)

    The most fundamental difference is that

    eukaryotes do have "true" nuclei

    containing their DNA, whereas the genetic

    material in prokaryotes is not membrane-


    In eukaryotes, the mitochondria and

    chloroplasts perform various metabolic

    processes and are believed to have been

    derived from endosymbiotic bacteria. In

    prokaryotes similar processes occur across

    the cell membrane; endosymbionts are

    extremely rare.

    The cell walls of prokaryotes are generally formed of a different molecule

    (peptidoglycan) to those of eukaryotes (many eukaryotes do not have a cell

    wall at all).

    Prokaryotes are usually much smaller than eukaryotic cells.

    Prokaryotes also differ from eukaryotes in that they contain only a single

    loop of stable chromosomal DNA stored in an area named the nucleoid,

    while eukaryote DNA is found on tightly bound and organised

    chromosomes. Although some eukaryotes have satellite DNA structures

    called plasmids, these are generally regarded as a prokaryote feature and

    many important genes in prokaryotes are stored on plasmids.

    Prokaryotes have a larger surface area to volume ratio giving them a higher

    metabolic rate, a higher growth rate and consequently a shorter generation

    time compared to Eukaryotes.


    Prokaryotes also differ from eukaryotes in the structure, packing,

    density, and arrangement of their genes on the chromosome.

    Prokaryotes have incredibly compact genomes compared to

    eukaryotes, mostly because prokaryote genes lack introns and large

    non-coding regions between each gene.

    Whereas nearly 95% of the human genome does not code for

    proteins or RNA or includes a gene promoter, nearly all of the

    prokaryote genome codes or controls something.

    Prokaryote genes are also expressed in groups, known as operons,

    instead of individually, as in eukaryotes.

    In a prokaryote cell, all genes in an operon(three in the case of the

    famous lac operon) are transcribed on the same piece of RNA and

    then made into separate proteins, whereas if these genes were native

    to eukaryotes, they each would have their own promoter and be

    transcribed on their own strand of mRNA. This lesser degree of

    control over gene expression contributes to the simplicity of the

    prokaryotes as compared to the eukaryotes.

  • Comments via Facebook

    May 8, 2013, 12:49pm

    Thank y ou for this website, it helped me so much in my A-level!

    7 8 ...8 1

    December 5, 2013, 4:51pm

    They don't really have the function of the similarity between the


    2 07 ...2 5 3

    May 12, 2013, 12:11pm

    Actually , most eukary otic organisms are also unicellular. It's just

    that multicellularity occurs more often within the domain

    eukary a.

    5 9 ...2 2 4

    March 13, 2014, 2:36am

    I'm 15 y ears old getting prepared for the Biology EOC Test :(

    1 08 ...2 1 2

    Anonymous comments (30)

    Comments: Eukaryotic Cell vs Prokaryotic Cell


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    M Iftikhar Khan Director at Punjab Professors'

    Academy(Mughalpura&Saddar Campuses,LHR Cantt)

    good 4 presenting a topic.

    Reply Like Follow Post May 8 at 7:22am4

    Jacky Sony Chainama College of Health Sciences


    Reply Like Follow Post February 9 at 3:11am7

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    very vital

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    Joseph Depaul Anudike Works at McDonald's

    Thanks so much atleast it has open my mind to what am studying as amicrobiologist.

    Reply Like Follow Post May 6 at 4:05pm






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