Difference between Plant and Animal Cells: Plants and Animals consist the major kingdoms of Domain Eukarya. On one hand, Kingdom Plantae is composed of multi-cellular (although some are unicellular) autotrophic organisms. At present, it is estimated that the total number of plants is 400,000 while of course a lot still remain undiscovered.
On the other hand, the members of the Kingdom Animalia make up more than three-fourths of all species found in our planet. They typically range from the simplest like the sponges and corals up to the most developed one like humans.
In terms of physical appearance, plants undeniably are distinctly different from animals. But what about inside them? Do they differ too? Well, in this post, we will explore the answer to that question! We will discuss the difference between plant cell and animal cell everything at the cellular organization level. Check out the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells as well.
Table of Contents
What are plant cells?
Like any other eukaryotic cells, plant cells that have their genetic material enclosed in the nucleus and have membrane-bound organelles. One of the most distinct features of plants cells is the presence of cell wall apart from the cell membrane itself.
- This cell wall, primarily composed of cellulose, is what provides the whole plant structure support and rigidity.
- The main function of plant cells is to carry out photosynthesis because of the presence of chlorophyll in their chloroplasts.
- It was once believed that plant cells originated from the endosymbiosis between a photosynthetic single celled organism and a larger proto-eukaryote.
Types of plant cells
There are different types of plant cells which are specific in performing certain functions necessary for survival. The following are the types of plant cells:
Among all types of plant cells, parenchyma cells are the simplest in terms of structure – they only have thin walls. These cells are not highly specialized a primarily used for the storage of organic products.
Collenchyma cells have relatively thin walls but with some degrees of thickening at some parts of the cell. This type of structure allows the plant cell to utilize their function as structural support.
Unlike parenchyma and collenchyma cells, sclerenchyma cells have highly lignified (embedded with lignin) cell walls which are thickened dead cells at maturity.
4. Water Conducting Cells
Xylem is a plant vascular tissue which helps in transmitting water from roots to all parts of the plant. The cells in this tissue have a hardening agent unlike collenchyma cells. There are 2 types of cells within Xylem namely tracheids and vessel members. Seedless vascular plants contain tracheids whereas flowering plants (Angiosperms) contain both tracheids and vessel members.
5. Sieve Tube Members
Phloem is another plant tissue which is responsible to conduct foods produced (via Photosynthesis) in the leaves to all parts of the plant. Within this tissue, 3 types of cells found namely companion cells, phloem fibres, and parenchyma cells.
What are animal cells?
Animal cells are also a type of eukaryotic cells that contain a “true nucleus” and membrane-bound organelles enclosed together by a plasma membrane.
- Animal cells do not have cell wall, which typically distinguish them from other eukaryotic organisms like plants and fungi.
- Scientists believed that the characteristic of having cell wall by animals is a feature that was lost in the past by a single-celled organism that eventually gave rise to the Kingdom Animalia.
- Despite the lack of a rigid cell wall, animal cells have developed a wide array of cell types, tissues, and organs. Animal cells typically evolved to form nerves and muscles which allowed them for locomotion and mobility.
- While being mobile has greatly allowed animals to do a lot of things, animal cells per se are unable to synthesize their own food, hence are always dependent on plants.
Types of animal cells
There are different types of animals per se, depending on the type of environment they live in and the type of lifestyle they have. Listed below are some of the most common types of animal cells.
1. Nerve Cells
Nerve cells are specialized cells that electro-chemically send impulses or information to and from the sensory receptors and the central nervous system.
2. Blood Cells
Also called as the hematopietic cell, the blood cell is responsible for carrying oxygen to the different tissues while at the same time collecting carbon dioxide from them. Aside from that, blood cells also carry with them hormones and other nutrients and send them to the different parts of the body.
3. Muscle Cells
Muscle cells, also called myocytes, are long and tubular cells (sometimes spindle shaped) that function for the production of force and movement. In animals, muscle cells contain the most number of mitochondria.
4. Skin Cells
Located in the epidermal and dermal layer, skin cells function mainly for protection, perception, and transmission of sensation. In addition to that, skin cells also prevent water loss through dehydration.
5. Bone Cells
Bone cells make up the bones and overall skeleton of animals. While there are different types of bone cells, their main function is to provide structural support and aid in movement.
Difference Between Plant and Animal Cells
As eukaryotic cells, plants and animal cells share many features in common like the presence of organelles like the nucleus, mitochondria, cell membrane and other. However, as both are basic units of entities, each has their own feature that differentiates it from the other. Here are the differences:
-  – “Plant Cell.” Plant Cell | Structure, Parts of Plant Cell | [email protected] Accessed December 29, 2016. Link.
-  – Petruzzello, Melissa. “Xylem.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016. Accessed December 29, 2016. Link.
-  – “Molecular Expressions Cell Biology: Animal Cell Structure.” Molecular Expressions Cell Biology: Animal Cell Structure. Accessed December 29, 2016. Link.