School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Endosymbiosis

Prokaryotes vs. Eukaryotes

Every cell on our planet is either a prokaryotic or a eukaryotic cell. There are many differences between the two cell types. The table on this page highlights just a few of the main differences. 

A prokaryotic cell and a eukaryotic cell

Prokaryotes                                     Eukaryotes
Small cell size (0.2 - 2 um) Large cell size (10 - 100 um)
Nucleus absent Nucleus present
Membrane-bound organelles absent Membrane-bound organelles present
DNA in circular chromosomes DNA in linear chromosomes
Cell division by binary fission Cell division by mitosis and meiosis

 

Bacteria and microbes from the group Archaea are prokaryotes. All other life, including plants, animals, fungus, and amoebas, are eukaryotes. The eukaryotic cell shown above on the right is representative of an animal cell.


Additional images via Wikimedia Commons. Prokaryotic cell by LadyofHats.

Plant cell illustration

Plant cells are a type of eukaryotic cell.

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Plant cell illustration

Plant cells are a type of eukaryotic cell.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.