What is the Difference Between Animal Cells and Plant Cells?

by Katrina Cain

Typical Plant Cell

The biggest difference between plant cells and animal cells is that plant cells have a cell wall surrounding their cell membrane. Animal cells have no such wall. This gives plant cells rigidity and allows them to remain upright. Plant cells have a large vacuole that takes up most of the room inside their membrane. The vacuole controls the movement and storage of nutrients and waste within the cell, and helps maintain the cell’s structure using fluid for support. Plant cells are relatively uniform in structure – they are all roughly the same shape. whereas there are many different kinds, sizes and shapes of animal cells. Plant cells also contain chloroplasts; the organelles that make food needed for the plant’s growth, using sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen in a process known as photosynthesis (meaning to synthesize using light). The oxygen biproduct of photosynthesis allows Earth to be inhabited by air breathing organisms; simply put, plants make air for us to breathe. Plant cells have plasmodesmata; pores in the cell wall that allow chemical communication between cells.

Typical Animal Cell

Animal cell membranes have all sorts of receptor proteins that become activated to trigger an opening in the membrane to allow hormones, nutrients and waste to move into and out of the cell. Some substances, such as water can diffuse through the cell wall without needing a chemical signal to do so.

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