What are Some Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells?

Plant cells have cell walls.
Animal cells usually have multiple, small vacuoles.
Plant cells are larger than animals cells are are surrounded by a rigid cell wall.
Under a microscope, a plant cells have a more regular shape then animal cells.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2015
  • Copyright Protected:
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Animal and plant cells have some key similarities and noted differences. Understanding basic cell structure helps to understand how the cells differ from each other, and they do differ in important ways, as plant cells provide different functions for the plant than animal cells provide for the body.

Both types of cells have some similar structural elements. First, they are both eukaryotic, which means they have a defined nucleus. The nucleus contains chromosomes. It is protected and surrounded by the cytoplasm, which is a watery or gel-like liquid. Further, both types of cells have a cell membrane that surrounds the cell. This allows for the cell to exert control, in most cases, over what can penetrate the cell, and what cannot.

One of the primary differences between animal and plant cells is that these have a cell wall made up of cellulose. This helps the cell to allow high pressure to build inside of it, without bursting. A plant cell has to be able to accept large amounts of liquid through osmosis, without being destroyed. An animal cell does not have this cell wall. If you start to fill the animal cell with too much distilled water or other fluid, it will eventually pop.


Plant cells also are different because they use photosynthesis to covert sunlight into needed food for the plant. They have chloroplasts, which have their own DNA, essentially directing the work of the chloroplasts.

Also plant cells, when viewed under a microscope, appear very different from animal cells because of the presence of a large vacuole, which exists in the cell’s cytoplasm. It usually takes up most of the room in the cell, and the membrane of the cell encircles it. It contains waste materials, water, and nutrients that can be used or secreted as necessary.

Animal cells, on the other hand, have small vacuoles and may have several. They never have the large single vacuole that takes up most of the space in plant cells. Plant cells often have a more regular shape when viewed under a microscope, while animal cells tend to vary greatly in appearance.

The differences between these cells is more complex, but the primary differences exist in the above-mentioned ways. To sum it up, both types of cells have a nucleus, a cytoplasm, and a cell membrane. A cell from a plant has a large cell vacuole, chloroplasts, a cell wall and a regular shape. Small vacuoles, no cell wall, varied shapes, and the absence of chloroplasts characterize the animal versions.


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Discussion Comments

Post 467

i am still want to know is there more than six differences for the animal and plant cells.

Post 449

what things does the animal cell have that the plant cell does not have?

Post 442

Thanks for the help, but are these the only differences between both cells?

Post 441

This article helps a lot for gcse; core, double and triple if needed. This article also helps with biology As level but for As level the more complex detail is needed. This partly helped with my biology As level but this was already taught to me. Only if you could produce this in more detail. Thank you a lot anyway. God bless.

Post 440

this is very good info. the best helps

Post 439

thank you very much. you helped me. i had no idea that the plant cell was bigger than the animal cell.

Post 434

the plant cell is larger than the animal cell.

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Post 389

Awesome. This is truly helpful.

Post 388

great for cramming for a test

Post 385

i guess an animal cell is bigger than a plant cell.

Post 376

plant and animal cell size can be the same but also plant cells can be bigger and animal cells can be bigger. it varies with the size of the animal or plant.

Post 375

this helped with homework and i could not remember that the animal cell did not have a cell wall. without this i could have forgotten!

And do plant and/or animal cells die and if so how?

Post 368

what does an animal cell have that the plant cells don't?

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Post 328

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Post 327

this is very helpful but i am kind of confused

what structures in animal cells and plant cells causes them to have two different shapes, such as a round shape and rectangular shape?

Post 326

so many times I have studied the difference between plant cells and animal cells, but still I was confused and didn't understand it. Today when I read through this, I'm totally satisfied, and hope it will help me on my demonstration which is to be on Monday. Thanks for providing such great and understandable definitions.

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Thanks. This is OK but not a lot of help. you need to be more specific in the explanation but it's OK. i got some facts for my essay.

Moderator's reply: Thank you for reading wiseGEEK and participating in the discussion forums. It is impossible to cover every aspect of such a broad topic in a 400-word essay. However, we always encourage our readers to do more research on topics if they want more details.

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Post 136

Animal: yes or no--Plant: yes or no. Cell membrane: Cell wall: Chloroplast: Chromatin: Cytoplasm: Endoplasmic reticulum: Gogli Bodies: Lysosomes: Mitochondrion: Nuclues: Nuclear membrane: Nucleolus: Ribosome: Vacuole:

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Post 96

Explain the reasons for their similiarities and differences

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what is the difference between plant and animal mitochondrion?

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Post 69

Thanx for this article!!!! I still have questions. What organelles do animal cells have and plant cells don't and vice versa?

Post 66

Both animal and plant cells have some similar structural elements. First off they are both eukaryotic, which means they have a defined nucleus. The nucleus contains chromosomes. It is protected and surrounded by the cytoplasm, which is a watery or gel-like liquid. Further, animal and plant cells have a cell membrane that surrounds the cell. This allows for the cell to exert control, in most cases, over what can penetrate the cell, and what cannot.

Post 64

Is the plant cell bigger than the animal cell? Or is the animal cell bigger than the plant cell? of Course the animal cell is bigger you should read more often dude because they kind of Answered in the essay info.

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Post 50

what about ribosomes? do both plant and animal cells have ribosomes?

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Post 45

Both plant and animal cells have cell membranes. Plant cells have a cell wall and a cell membrane, animal cells do not have a cell wall.

Post 38

there are only 3 differences : huge vaucole in plant compare to tiny vacuoles in animal cell and plants cell has cholorplast, cell wall which animal cell don't have!

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Post 23

another difference could be that of mitotic divisions. animal cells divide by forming a cleavage furrow, and plant cells divide after a cell plate is formed, which enables the cells to form 2 daughter cell walls

Post 21

Are there anymore differences between the two cells?

I need 8 and so far I only have 5.

Post 18

What are the parts that animal cells have, yet plant cells don't, and vise-versa???

Post 16

soooo which is biger, the plant cell or animal cell...

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Post 13

So are plant cells bigger or animal cells?

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Post 7

The cells DO vary in size - because the plant cells have one large vacuole, which is filled with liquid, it is larger than the animal cells. Animal cells have many small vacuoles which are scattered throughout the cell. I believe that about 90% of the plant cell is consumed by the vacuole.

Post 6

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Post 2

i guess they must vary in size. this helped a lot with my homework!

Post 1

Is the plant cell bigger than the animal cell? Or is the animal cell bigger than the plant cell?

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