Prokaryotes Vs. Eukaryotes: What Are the Differences?

Prokaryotes Vs. Eukaryotes: What Are the Differences?

FIGURE 1.8 The structure of cells. Schematic diagrams of a “generalized” bacterial (a), plant (b), and animal (c) cell. Note: Organelles are not drawn to scale.


Features held in common by the two types of cells:

  • Plasma membrane of similar construction .
  • Genetic information encoded in DNA using identical genetic code .
  • Similar mechanisms for transcription and translation of genetic information,
    including similar ribosomes.
  •  Shared metabolic pathways (e.g., glycolysis and TCA cycle)
  • Similar apparatus for conservation of chemical energy as ATP (located in the
    plasma membrane of prokaryotes and the mitochondrial membrane of
  • Similar mechanism of photosynthesis (between cyanobacteria and green plants).
  •  Similar mechanism for synthesizing and inserting membrane proteins
  • Proteasomes (protein digesting structures) of similar construction (between
    archaebacteria and eukaryotes)
  •  Cytoskeletal filaments built of proteins similar to actin and tubulin

Features of eukaryotic cells not found in prokaryotes

  • Division of cells into nucleus and cytoplasm, separated by a nuclear envelope
    containing complex pore structures
  • Complex chromosomes composed of DNA and associated proteins that are
    capable of compacting into mitotic structures
  • Complex membranous cytoplasmic organelles (includes endoplasmic  reticulum, Golgi complex, lysosomes, endosomes, peroxisomes, and glyoxisomes)
  • Specialized cytoplasmic organelles for aerobic respiration (mitochondria) and  photosynthesis (chloroplasts)
  • Complex cytoskeletal system (including actin filaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules) and associated motor proteins
  •  Complex flagella and cilia
  • Ability to ingest particulate material by enclosure within plasma membrane vesicles (phagocytosis)
  •  Cellulose‐containing cell walls (in plants)
  • Cell division using a microtubule‐containing mitotic spindle that separates chromosomes
  • Presence of two copies of genes per cell (diploidy), one from each parent
  • Presence of three different RNA synthesizing enzymes (RNA polymerases)
  • Sexual reproduction requiring meiosis and fertilization


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