Plant Cell vs. Animal Cell

Plant and animal cells have several differences and similarities. For example, animal cells do not have a cell wall or chloroplasts but plant cells do. Animal cells are round and irregular in shape while plant cells have fixed, rectangular shapes.

Plant and animal cells are both eukaryotic cells, so they have several features in common, such as the presence of a cell membrane, and cell organelles, like the nucleus, mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum.

Comparison chart

Animal Cell

Plant Cell

Cell wall Absent Present (formed of cellulose)
Shape Round (irregular shape) Rectangular (fixed shape)
Vacuole One or more small vacuoles (much smaller than plant cells). One, large central vacuole taking up 90% of cell volume.
Centrioles Present in all animal cells Only present in lower plant forms.
Chloroplast Animal cells don't have chloroplasts. Plant cells have chloroplasts because they make their own food.
Cytoplasm Present Present
Endoplasmic Reticulum (Smooth and Rough) Present Present
Ribosomes Present Present
Mitochondria Present Present
Plastids Absent Present
Golgi Apparatus Present Present
Plasma Membrane Only cell membrane Cell wall and a cell membrane
Microtubules/ Microfilaments Present Present
Flagella May be found in some cells May be found in some cells
Lysosomes Lysosomes occur in cytoplasm. Lysosomes usually not evident.
Nucleus Present Present
Cilia Present Most plant cells do not contain cilia.

Contents: Plant Cell vs Animal Cell


Plants are autotrophs; they produce energy from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis, for which they use cell organelles called chloroplasts. Animal cells do not have chloroplasts. In animal cells, energy is produced from food (glucose) via the process of cellular respiration. Cellular respiration occurs in mitochondria on animal cells, which are structurally somewhat analogous to chloroplasts, and also perform the function of producing energy. However, plant cells also contain mitochondria.


Cell Wall

Plant cells have a rigid cell wall that surrounds the cell membrane. Animal cells do not have a cell wall. When looking under a microscope, the cell wall is an easy way to distinguish plant cells.


Shape and size of vacuoles

Animal cells have one or more small vacuoles whereas plant cells have one large central vacuole that can take up to 90% of cell volume.

Difference in function of vacuoles

In plant cells, the function of vacuoles is to store water and maintain turgidity of the cell. Vacuoles in animal cells store water, ions and waste.

Pictures of plant and animal cells

Structure of a Typical Plant Cell (click to enlarge)
Structure of a Typical Plant Cell (click to enlarge)
Structure of a Typical Animal Cell (click to enlarge)
Structure of a Typical Animal Cell (click to enlarge)

Video Comparing Plant and Animal Cells

This video summarizes the differences between animal and plant cells:

For a more in-depth look at the differences between plant and animal cell organelles, see this video.

Types of plant cells

This is a picture of the various types of plant cells, including xylem, phloem, sclerenchyma and collenchyma.
This is a picture of the various types of plant cells, including xylem, phloem, sclerenchyma and collenchyma.


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Comments: Animal Cell vs Plant Cell

Anonymous comments (13)

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June 21, 2010, 1:55pm


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October 6, 2009, 1:34am

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November 29, 2013, 4:01pm

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January 21, 2014, 9:35pm

Shapes are SO varied across plant and animal cells that they should NEVER be used as a comparison... e.g. columnar epithelial cells in animals are cuboidal and parenchyma cells in plant stems are spherical.

— 190.✗.✗.124

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