Understand the Key Differences between Plant and Animal Cells: A Comprehensive Guide

This article will provide a clear understanding of the key differences between plant and animal cells. It is important to understand the difference between plant and animal cells as Plants and Animals are different living beings with different functionalities. Which is why the difference between their basic structure should be highlighted.


Both Plant and Animal cells are a type of eukaryotic cells which means, they both have a nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles. While there might be many similarities in these cells, there are some of major dissimilarities between them. This article will try to cover the most prominent differences between a plant and an animal cell.

Differences between Plant and Animal Cells
Differences between Plant and Animal Cells

Differences between Plant and Animal Cells

HeadingPlant cellAnimal cell
Cell shapeSquare/RectangularIrregular
Cell wallPresentAbsent
VacuolesSingle large at the centreSmall and scattered
CiliaAbsentPresent in high quantity
Mode of NutritionAutotrophicHeterotrophic
Differences between Plant and Animal Cells

Difference Between the Cell Wall of animal and plant cell

  • The easiest way to distinguish between a plant cell and an animal cell is to look for a cell wall as this prominent feature distinguishes plant cells from animal ones. How to look for a cell wall? Well you can simply distinguish a cell wall from a cell membrane by checking if there is any irregularity in terms of shape in it. If there are some irregularities and the shape isn’t geometrical then it is a cell membrane. If the shape is geometrical then it is a cell wall
  • As plant cells have a cell wall which is rigid unlike the cell membrane, cell growth is restricted and a definite shape is formed.
  • This cell wall helps plant cells in maintaining their shape and helps them cope with high stress and pressure
  • Animal cells do not have a cell wall but to replace it they have a cell membrane, this cell membrane is not rigid in nature and can be considered as living as opposed to the dead cell wall of plants
  • This membrane allows animal cells to change shape, which is necessary for movement and other functions.


  • The presence of chloroplasts in another major difference between plant and animal cells. As we all know that plant cells are autotrophic and they make their own food, Hence they need a green pigment named chloroplast.
  • The function of chloroplasts is to prepare food for plants in the presence of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. The food that plants produce is mainly glucose which provides energy to the plant to perform its daily functions.
  • Animal cells do not need chloroplasts and hence they lack chloroplasts and instead get their energy from food.
  • This means that animal cells are heterotrophic(dependent on outside sources for food) , while plant cells are autotrophic(make their own food).


  • Vacuoles are also a key difference between plant and animal cells.
  • Vacuoles are present in both plant and animal cells and perform vital functions but in plant cells the number of vacuoles is very low, usually one or 2. This singular vacuole is large in size and helps the plant maintain osmotic pressure.
  • Which helps plant cells to maintain their shape and controlling the in and outflow of water and to deal with environmental changes.
  • Animal cells also have vacuoles but they are not as large as compared to animal ones. In animal cells the vacuoles also perform similar functions except maintaining cell shape.

Difference Between the Shape of animal and plant cell

  • The shape of plant and animal cells is another distinct difference between the two.
  • Most plant cells are either rectangular or square in shape or have a fixed shape that resembles some type of a quadrilateral or polygon while animal cells have an irregular shape and do not fit any criteria for a fixed shape.
  • The presence of cell wall in plants is the reason for this difference in shape. As, cell wall restricts the growth of the plant cell and hence provide it a fixed shape.
  • Animal cells, without a cell wall, can change shape to fit their environment and carry out specific functions.
  • Animal cells do not have a cell wall and most animal cells have a dynamic shape which keeps on changing according to the environment around them
  • The only factor that influences the shape of animal cells is the presence of other cells around them.
  • Tightly packed animal cells tend to get fit in a fixed structure as compared to the loose ones which do not follow any fixed structure.

Difference Between the other Cell organelles (extra) of animal and plant cell

In addition to these differences, there are also some organelles that are unique to either plant or animal cells. For example, animal cells have lysosomes, which are organelles responsible for breaking down waste materials or they can also be used to terminate the cell in case of any abnormalities. While Plant cells do not have lysosomes in most cased they have vacuoles to perform the same function. Plant cells also have peroxisomes, which are organelles involved in breaking down fatty acids and detoxifying harmful substances, while animal cells do not have these organelles.


Plant cells and animal cells are two distinct types of eukaryotic cells that share many similarities, but also have several key differences. These differences, including structure, chloroplasts, vacuoles, shape, and unique organelles, play a crucial role in the function and survival of these cells. Understanding the differences between plant and animal cells is very important as they provide us an in depth understanding of how different living organisms perform their day to-day functions. For students of biology this difference is important as it is asked in most of the exams provided that this topic is included in their syllabus.


Q1-Which organelle would you not find an animal cell and why do the plants need it?

Answer : In animal cells Chloroplast is not found the reason is that animals are heterotrophic in nature and plant cells make their own food in the presence of sunlight, CO2 and water which gives the need for chloroplast.

Q2- Name the organelles, which help provide cells with energy and release energy?

Answer : Mitochondria and chloroplast, they help in reproducing energy in the cell and the second one allows the energy to be used in creating glucose.

Q3- Lysosomes’s other name is…?

Answer : Suicide bags or digestion house of the cell.

Q4- What are eukaryotic unicellular organisms? Give some examples.

Answer : They are organisms with special organelles in which they can perform their metabolism. Like Mitochondria and Chloroplasts have bacterial origins but also have their own set of DNA and Bacteria like Ribosomes.
For example; Protozoa, Unicellular algae and unicellular fungi, etc,.

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