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The 4 differences between the animal and the plant cell

The 4 differences between the animal and the plant cell

April 20, 2024

All living beings share the same basic unit, which is none other than the cell. From the smallest unicellular microorganisms to the most complex multicellular organisms, the cell is always present. But that everything has the same unit does not mean that it is the same for everyone.

Animals and plants are living beings that have a type of interactions between more complex cells; These microscopic bodies are organized to form specialized tissues and organs. But a plant is very different from what an animal is, and these differences are already appreciated at the cellular level. In this article we will review the differences between the animal cell and the plant cell .

  • Maybe you're interested: "Differences between DNA and RNA"

Main differences between the animal and plant cells

Both animal and plant cells they are eukaryotic, that is, their genetic content is isolated in a nucleus , that separates it from the rest and that presents membranous organelles (complexes that carry out vital functions for this microscopic element). In spite of this, specific characteristics are observed that make it possible to distinguish between plant and animal cells.

Some of these differences are so striking that in the field of histology (study of tissues), with a look at a sample of tissue using a microscope, It is possible to know if it comes from a plant or an animal . Let's see what they are

1. External structures

All cells present a membrane formed by two rows that separate the inside from the outside . Having a second layer covering the cell is no longer so common, and here lies a difference between animal and plant cells. While the former do not present any secondary layer, the plant cells do have a so-called cellulose cell wall. This rigid structure provides protection (as in bacteria) and offers sustainability to tissues, because the wall acts as the foundation for cellular organization.

The tissues of animals are also formed by networks of cells, although they lack the cell wall. But instead, they present the extracellular matrix, which is not observed in plant tissues. This space is made up of structural proteins, such as collagen, which provides a means to connect cells to each other and shape tissues. Despite their differences, the cell wall and the extracellular matrix share functions (support of the structure).

2. Cell division

A theme linked to the previous one that offers differences between animal and plant cell is in the process of cell division, whether it is a mitosis or a meiosis. At the moment of splitting the cell in two , the mechanism used is different.

While in animal cells it is by strangulation of the cell membrane, in plant cells it is by the formation of a septum, which will be part of the future cell wall that will separate the two sister cells.

3. Organelles

The main characteristic of plants is their ability to obtain energy from sunlight, in other words, that they can perform photosynthesis. This is possible because of the presence in plant cells of an exclusive organelle, known as a chloroplast , which is in charge of the process of photosynthesis with the use of chlorophyll pigment, responsible for the green color of the leaves of plants and some algae.

Having the cell wall has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. Being isolated, the transit of particles in the cells is limited, although it is not so necessary because they perform photosynthesis , that is, it does not need an external power supply. In contrast, animal cells have no other way to obtain energy than the uptake of external substances by their membrane.

In order to assimilate products, the cells perform phagocytosis, a process that leads to the cell membrane to generate a vacuole or vesicle with the particle inside, to then transport this "package" inside to be digested. In a way similar to the stomach, it is necessary that the captured particle disintegrates into smaller components to absorb them, and for this it is necessary to add enzymes (proteins with catalytic capacity) that digest the substance. These are transported in vesicles known as lysosomes , and until now their presence in plant cells has not been observed.

4. Cytoskeleton

The cytoskeleton is an important element of cells. It is a framework of structural filamentous proteins that maintain the shape of the cell, transport the organelles and vesicles through the cytosol (the cell's internal environment) and have an important role in cell division.

Although it is a common element, there are differences between animal and plant cells. In the former, forming part of the cytoskeleton is an organelle known as centriole . This cylinder-shaped structure is responsible for the cellular movement by means of cilia and flagella (filamentous structures of the membrane that allow impulse). Apparently, centrioles have not been found in plant cells, just as there are no mobile cells (the cell wall prevents displacement).

Overview of animal and plant cells | Biology | Khan Academy (April 2024).

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