Animal and Plant Cells

Some examples of living things are:

  • Plants
  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Animals

All these living things are made up of basic units known as cells. Most cells are so small that they can only be seen through a microscope. Each cell has various components, and each component has its specific function.

Living things can also be referred to as organisms. Both animals and plants are examples of organisms. So we can say that organisms are made up of cells.

Animal Cells

If you were to look under a microscope, an animal cell would appear similar to the diagram below.

Cell membrane

The cell membrane is a thin layer surrounding the cell. It not only holds the cell together but also controls what enters and exits the cell.


The nucleus controls what happens in the cell. It contains DNA, which is the genetic information that cells need to grow and reproduce.


The cytoplasm is a jelly-like substance in which chemical reactions happen.


Mitochondria are tiny structures inside cells where respiration reactions take place. They are often called the powerhouses of the cell because they produce energy that the cell can use to carry out its functions.

Plant Cells

Under a microscope, a plant cell will look similar to the diagram below.


Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll used for photosynthesis.

  • Photosynthesis is the process by which plants make their own food.

Not all plant cells have chloroplasts. They are primarily found in cells where photosynthesis occurs, like in leaves.

Cellulose Cell Wall

The vacuole is a large sac filled with a liquid called cell sap. It helps provide support to the plant cell.


The vacuole is a large sac filled with cell sap that gives support to the cell. It contains a weak solution of sugar and salts.

Comparing Animal and Plant Cells

Animal cells typically contain these four main structures:

  • Nucleus
  • Cytoplasm
  • Cell membrane
  • Mitochondria

Plant cells have all the main structures found in animal cells plus three additional ones:

  • Cell wall
  • Chloroplasts
  • Vacuole

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