Prokaryote vs Eukaryote (Plant and Animal) Cells
by Kathy Egbert
| 6 Questions
Comparing and contrastinng Prokaryote and Eukaryote cells (abt 4 mins)
Being small and simple can be an advantage because prokaryotic cells can reproduce quickly and efficiently. This allows these simple organisms to adapt to environmental changes easier than eukaryotic cells. This increases "fitness" - their ability to survive and reproduce in spite of changes in environmental conditions.
Knowing the prefix, suffix and root meanings of words increases your vocabulary. Eukaryote literally means
A before the nucleus
B true nucleus
If you haven't already done so, add this information to your class notes
Since there is only two types of cells, characteristics shared by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells means the same as saying that all cells have these characteristics.

All cells have 3 things in common:
  1. - genetic material (DNA)
  2. - cell membrane
  3. - cytoplasm
Compare & Contrast Prokaryotic vs Eukaryotic Cells
If you haven't already added this information to your class notes, do it now by creating a table or copying the Venn diagram to your notes.
Knowing the differences between prokaryote and eukaryote cells is what helps you distinguish and identify the type of cell. A couple of clarifications to the Venn Diagram:

  • prokaryotes have a "nucleoid region" where the DNA is located in the cell, however it is not considered a nucleus because it doesn't have a membrane around it
  • we refer to the organelles in Eukaryotic cells as "membrane-bound organelles", meaning that the individual organelles are surrounded by a membrane
Practice - test yourself using the following three pictures of cells. Select either prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells.
Figure A (above) is a picture of staphylococcus aurea bacteria. It is a
B prokaryotic cell
A eukaryotic cell
Figure B (above) is a picture of the bacterium E. coli. It is a
B prokaryotic cell
A eukaryotic cell
Figure C (above) is a picture of epithelial cells (cells that line the surface of organs and tissues in humans). It is a
B prokaryotic cell
A eukaryotic cell
Comparing & Contrasting Plant and Animal Cells (abt 2 mins) There are two types of Eukaryotic cells: plant and animal. While watching the video clip, add the information that distinguishes plant cells from animal cells to your class notes.
Does your list look something like this?
Plant CellsAnimal Cells
  1. autotrophs: make own food
  2. cell wall: gives structure & support, controls water loss (see pg 79 in textbook)
  3. chloroplast; organelle for photosynthesis, filled with green pigment called chlorophyll (see pg 79 in textbook)
  4. large central vacuole: regulates water, nutrient storage & sometimes serves as a storage for poison
  1. heterotrophs: get their food from eating other things in the environment
  2. centrioles: thought to help cells during cell division (see pg 78 in textbook)
  3. lysosomes: contain enzymes that help to protect and break down damaged or worn-out cells and eat invading bacteria or viruses (see pg 78 in textbook)
Similarities: makes proteins, grows, develops, and reproduces
Now that you know a little about prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic plant and animal cells. Try this question: Suppose a certain poison kills human cells by blocking pores in the membrane that surrounds the nucleus. Explain why the poison (would or wouldn't) work on prokaryotic bacterial cells.
B The poison wouldn't work on prokaryotic cells because they do not have a membrane bound nucleus like eukaryotic cells.
A The poison would work the same on prokaryotic cells because they have a nucleoid region surrounded by a membrane.
Practice identifying the structures inside cells and their function.
Practice the differences between prokaryote and eukaryote cells.
Practice the differences between plant and animal eukaryote cells.

Use the animation at under Unit 2: Cells, Chapter 3: Cell Structures.

or Cells Alive at:

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