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Difference Between Eukaryotic Cells and Prokaryotic Cells

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The main difference between eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells is the nucleus. The actual nucleus is missing in prokaryotic cells, and membrane-bound organelles are seen solely in eukaryotic cells. Prokaryotic cells are only unicellular, while eukaryotic cells are multicellular. Every living thing is classified as either eukaryote or prokaryote. The cellular structure of an organism defines which category it belongs to.

What Is A Eukaryotic Cell?


A eukaryotic cell is a basis for every multicellular organism, including plants, animals, and humans, and certain unicellular organisms, such as protozoa. Eukaryotic cells include a variety of membrane-bound structures known as organelles, which are specialized cellular components that perform certain cellular activities. The nuclear membrane, also known as the nuclear envelope, surrounds the nucleus and preserves the genetic material.

Nuclear holes exist in the nuclear membrane and enable only certain substances to flow through. The endoplasmic reticulum is another membrane-bound organelle. ER comes in two varieties: rough and smooth. The rough ER extends from the nuclear membrane, is coated with ribosomes, and is where protein synthesis occurs.

The smooth ER serves as the primary location of lipid and steroid production. The mitochondria, which create the majority of the energy for the cell, are another key organelle. Additional organelles may be found in different eukaryotic cells. Depending on its role, each eukaryotic cell may specialize and include a varied percentage of each organelle type.

What Is A Prokaryotic Cell?


A Prokaryotic cell is a single-celled microorganism that is thought to be the oldest on the planet. Bacteria and Archaea are examples of prokaryotes. Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic prokaryotes that conduct photosynthesis. Because a prokaryotic cell has a single membrane, all processes occur inside the cytoplasm. They may be either free-living or parasitic.

Most prokaryotes range in size from 0.2 to 2µm. Prokaryotic cell membranes surround water-soluble proteins, DNA, and metabolites in the cytoplasm. Although prokaryotes do not have organelles in their cytoplasm, they have certain microcompartments that serve as basic organelles. Prokaryotes are divided into two groups: bacteria and cyanobacteria.

Bacteria may be classified into four shapes: spherical, spiral-shaped, rod-shaped, and comma-shaped. Peptidoglycans make up the bacterial cell wall. The cell wall protects the cell, keeps it in form, and prevents dehydration.

Some bacteria have a sticky outermost covering called a capsule, which aids the cell's attachment to surfaces. Flagella, a wipe-like structure, aids in cell migration. Fimbriae, many hair-like structures, also aid in adhesion. Some bacteria have a glycocalyx that wraps around the cell membrane.

Differences Between Eukaryotic Cells and Prokaryotic Cells


Eukaryotic cells have a real nucleus separated from the rest of the cell by a double membrane. It houses the giant cell's DNA-related operations in a smaller container to guarantee proximity of materials and greater efficiency for cellular communication and functions. Prokaryotic cells, on the other hand, lack a nucleus. The materials are already quite close together, and there is just a "nucleoid," which is the cell's core open section where the DNA is situated.

Cell Arrangement

Prokaryotes are usually unicellular, but eukaryotes are often multicellular. There are several exceptions: amoebas, paramecium, and yeast are unicellular eukaryotes.

DNA Structure

Before being organized into chromosomes, eukaryotic DNA is linear and complexed with packing proteins known as "histones." Prokaryotic DNA is circular and does not bind with histones or form chromosomes. A prokaryotic cell is simpler than a eukaryotic cell and needs fewer genes to operate. As a result, it only has one circular DNA molecule and many smaller DNA circlets.


In eukaryotes, this is a multi-component system composed of actin filaments, microtubules, and intermediate filaments. It is necessary for cell shape maintenance, internal structure, and mechanical force. It is also essential for mobility and cell division.

Ribosome Size

Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells have multiple ribosomes; however, eukaryotic ribosomes are bigger than prokaryotic ribosomes, with the 80S compared to 70S. Eukaryotic ribosomes are also more complicated than prokaryotic ribosomes, consisting of five types of ribosomal RNA and around eighty different proteins. On the other hand, prokaryotic ribosomes are made up of just three types of rRNA and around fifty different types of protein.

Sexual Reproduction

The majority of eukaryotes experience sexual reproduction, while prokaryotes reproduce asexually. In eukaryotes, sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic material that combines the parent's genes. In this process, genetic variation is created through sexual reproduction through recombination. However, the prokaryote reproduces clones of itself by binary fission. It relies more on the horizontal transfer of genetic material for variations.

Comparison Chart: Prokaryotic Vs Eukaryotic Cells

TypeProkaryotic CellsEukaryotic Cells
Cell DimensionsSizes range from 0.2 to 2.0 μm in diameterThe diameter extends from 10 to 100 μm
Cell WallChemically complex; usually presentChemically simple when present
DNA ArrangementCircularLinear
ReproductionAsexualAsexual as well as sexual
PlasmidsPresentVery uncommon in eukaryotes


How Are Eukaryotic And Prokaryotic Cells Similar?

Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells share some similarities: ribosomes, the genetic material cell cytoplasm, and plasma membranes. The cytoplasm is composed of cytosol. It is the intracellular fluid through which the organic material within the cell is suspended. It is also the area where most cell activities take place. Plasma membranes shield cells and facilitate material movement into or out of cells.

What Is Ribosome?

The ribosome is a biological organelle that consists of RNA and protein. As a result, it is known as the location of protein synthesis. Ribosomes may be found in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Eukaryotes have bigger ribosomes in their cells than prokaryotes.

What Is The Difference Between Prokaryotic And Eukaryotic DNA Forms?

Prokaryotic cells' DNA has a circular structure. Eukaryotic cells' DNA, on the other hand, has a linear structure.


On Earth, there are two kinds of organisms: prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Prokaryotes include bacteria and cyanobacteria. Eukaryotes include animals, plants, fungi, protozoa, and algae. Prokaryotes lack membrane-bound organelles as well as a nucleus. Eukaryotes, on the other hand, have membrane-bound organelles and a nucleus. The primary distinction between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is their cellular structure.

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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