All living things share the same basic unit, which is none other than the cell. From the smallest single-celled microorganisms to the most complex multicellular organisms, the cell is always present. But just because everything has the same unity does not mean that it is the same for everyone.
Animals and plants are living things that have a more complex type of interactions between cells; these microscopic bodies are organized to form specialized tissues and organs. But a plant is very different from an animal, and these differences can already be seen at the cellular level. In this article we will review the differences between animal cell and plant cell.
Main differences between animal and plant cell
Animal and plant cells they are eukaryotes, that is, their genetic content is isolated in a nucleus, Which separates it from the rest and has membrane organelles (complexes that perform vital functions for this microscopic element). Despite this, specific characteristics are observed that distinguish plant cells from animal cells.
Some of these differences are so striking that in the field of histology (tissue study), at a glance at a sample of tissue under a microscope, it is possible to know if it comes from a plant or an animal. Let’s see what they are
1. Exterior structures
All cells present a membrane formed of two rows separating the interior from the exterior. Having a second layer covering the cell is not so common anymore, and this is a difference between animal and plant cells. While the former do not have a secondary layer, plant cells do, the so-called cellulose cell wall. This rigid structure provides protection (as in bacteria) and provides durability to tissues, as the wall serves as the basis for cellular organization.
Animal tissues are also made up of cell networks, although they do not have a cell wall. But instead, they have the extracellular matrix, which is not seen in plant tissue. This space is made up of structural proteins, like collagen, which provides a way to connect cells to each other and to shape tissue. Despite their differences, the cell wall and the extracellular matrix share functions (support of the structure).
2. Cell division
One problem related to the above that has differences between animal and plant cells is the process of cell division, whether it is mitosis or meiosis. When leaving the cell in half, 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 partition, which will be part of the future cell wall that will separate the two cells. · Sister cells.
The main characteristic of plants is their ability to obtain energy from sunlight, in other words, they can photosynthesize. This is possible by the presence in plant cells of a proprietary organelle, known as the chloroplast, Which is responsible for 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 circulation of particles in cells is limited, although it is not that necessary as they carry out photosynthesisIn other words, it does not need an external power supply. On the other hand, animal cells have no other means of obtaining energy than the absorption by their membrane of external substances.
In order to assimilate the products, cells perform phagocytosis, a process that causes the cell membrane to generate a vacuole or vesicle with the particle inside, and then transport that “bundle” inside for digestion. In the same way as the stomach, the captured particle has to disintegrate into smaller components to absorb them, and for this it is necessary to add enzymes (proteins with catalytic capacity) that digest the substance. these they are carried in vesicles called lysosomes, And so far, their presence in plant cells has not been observed.
The cytoskeleton is an important part of cells. It is a network of structural filamentous proteins which maintain the shape of the cell, transport organelles and vesicles through the cytosol (internal environment of the cell) and play an important role in cell division.
Although this is a common element, differences are seen between animal and plant cells. In the first, being part of the cytoskeleton we find an organelle known as centriole. This cylinder-shaped structure is responsible for cell movement through the cilia and flagella (filamentous structures of the membrane that allow driving). Apparently, no centrioles were found in the plant cells, just as there are no motile cells (the cell wall prevents displacement).