Cells Living in Cells

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.

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Prokaryotes vs. Eukaryotes
  • Author(s): Dr. Biology
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: February 24, 2016
  • Date accessed: November 17, 2018
  • Link: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/prokaryotes-vs-eukaryotes

APA Style

Dr. Biology. (2016, February 24). Prokaryotes vs. Eukaryotes. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved November 17, 2018 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/prokaryotes-vs-eukaryotes

American Psychological Association. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

Chicago Manual of Style

Dr. Biology. "Prokaryotes vs. Eukaryotes". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 24 February, 2016. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/prokaryotes-vs-eukaryotes

MLA 2017 Style

Dr. Biology. "Prokaryotes vs. Eukaryotes". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 24 Feb 2016. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 17 Nov 2018. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/prokaryotes-vs-eukaryotes

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/

Plant cells are a type of eukaryotic cell.

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