Difference Between Plant, Animal, and Bacterial Cells

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Classification of Cells - Plant, Animal, and Bacterial Cells

A Cell is the basic structural and functional unit of organisms. The word ‘cell’ is derived from the Latin word “cella” which means “small room”. The type and number of cells in plants and animals vary. The cells can be classified in different ways. For example, based on the presence of a nuclear membrane, the cells are classified into two types i.e Eukaryotic and prokaryotic. Cells may also be classified based on the number of cells an organism is made of i.e unicellular, multicellular, and acellular.

Animal Cell

An animal cell is typically a eukaryotic type that has a well-defined nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi apparatus. All cells are surrounded by a cell membrane or plasma membrane which separates the inner and outer components of the cell. The cell components are suspended in a fluid called cytoplasm.

Animals are multicellular organisms. The cells are specialized to perform various functions. Also, they look and function differently from each other even if they belong to the same organism.

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Plant Cell

A plant cell is mainly a eukaryotic cell with a true nucleus and organelles similar to an animal cell but also consists of certain specific components such as chloroplasts which carry out photosynthesis. Plants are multicellular and have a distinct rigid wall surrounding the cells.

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Bacterial Cell

A bacterial cell is a prokaryotic cell that lacks a well-defined nucleus and membrane-bound organelles. Instead, it contains an irregular-shaped region where the genetic material is suspended. Bacteria is a single-celled organism.

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Difference Between Plant, Animal, and Bacterial Cell


Animal Cell

Plant Cell

Bacterial Cell


Animal cells are generally small in size when compared to the plant cell, on average they are 10 -20 μm (micrometres) in diameter.  

Plant cells are large.

The average size of a plant cell  is 10 -100 μm in diameter

The bacterial cell is very small.

It is about 0.5 -5.0 μm in diameter almost about one-tenth the size of a eukaryotic cell.


Eukaryotic cell

Eukaryotic cell

Prokaryotic cell


Animal cells vary in shape and are generally irregular due to the lack of a cell wall. They can be flat, round, oval, rectangular, concave, rod-shaped, or spherical and are mostly defined by the function they perform.

Plant cells are similar and typically rectangular or cube-shaped.

Bacterial cells are of different shapes such as spherical (cocci), rod (bacilli), spiral (spirilla), comma (vibrios) and corkscrew (spirochaetes).

Cell Wall

Animal cells lack cell walls but the cell membrane protects the cell from external damage and also plays a major role in selective permeability for the inflow and outflow of nutrients, water, and other molecules.

Plant cells have rigid cell walls that surround the plasma membrane. It provides tensile strength and protection against mechanical and osmotic stress. Plant cell walls are made up of pectic polysaccharides, proteins, cellulose, phenolic compounds, and water.

Bacterial cells have a cell wall surrounding the inner components of the cell. Apart from providing strength to the cell, it also helps in maintaining the cell shape.  Bacterial cell walls are made of peptidoglycan(murein).


The animal cell has a well-defined nucleus and comprises genetic material. It also controls the activities of the cell by regulating gene expression, hence known as the control centre of the cell.

The plant cell has a well-defined nucleus that stores the genetic material and also coordinates the cell’s activities such as cell division, metabolism, growth, and protein synthesis.

Bacterial cells lack membrane-bound nuclei. The genetic material lies suspended in the cytoplasm.


Animal cells have generally smaller vacuoles which sequester waste products.

Plant cells have larger vacuoles that help maintain water balance.

Bacterial cells have larger vacuoles and help to store ions and maintain water balance.


Large 80S ribosomes

Large 80S ribosomes

Small 70s ribosomes.


Animal cells have many lysosomes that contain digestive enzymes to break down the molecules and to protect them from foreign bodies.

Lysosomes are small and less in plant cells and are not needed as they have a rigid cell wall that protects from foreign bodies that lysosomes digest.

A lysosome is absent in bacterial cells.







Animal cells have centrioles located in the cytoplasm near the nucleus. They are made of microtubules and their major function is to assist the cell division process.

Centrioles are absent in plant cells.

Centrioles are not present in bacterial cells.

Golgi apparatus

Animal cells have larger and fewer Golgi bodies.

Plant cells have small and larger numbers of Golgi bodies.

There are no Golgi bodies in bacteria.

Method of nutrition

Animals cannot produce their own food from simple inorganic substances like carbon-di-oxide and water and depend on other organisms of food. Hence they are called heterotrophs.

Plants make their own food in the presence of sunlight and hence are called autotrophs.

Bacteria can obtain energy from the decomposition of dead organisms or by performing photosynthesis. They are both heterotrophs and autotrophs.



Present in plant cells, they give pigmentation colour and also facilitate trapping of sunlight for photosynthesis.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the types of bacterial cells?

The bacterial cells are most commonly classified based on the shape and they are of three varieties:

  • Bacillus (rod-shaped)

  • Coccus (spherical)

  • Spiral (twisted)

There are some varieties of bacteria that are pleomorphic and can change their biological functions and morphology-based on the environmental conditions.

2. What is the similarity between plant and animal cells?

Plant and animal cells are sort of similar since both are eukaryotic cells. Both the cells contain membrane-bound organelles.