The primary differences between plant cells and animal cells are:

  • The greatest difference between plant and animal cells occurs at the cell membrane. The cell membrane of a typical plant cell is covered with a protective wall of cellulose. The cellulose makes the membrane stiff, and thus the plant cell's structure is very rigid. This gives plants stiffness, and allows them to grow tall. Cellulose is secreted by the plant cell's cytoplasm. Thus, the plant cell has a cell wall, while the animal cell does not. The plant's cell wall may also contain lignin, a component of wood. The cell wall allows a very large pressure to be built up inside the cell, through osmosis. Animal cells, on the other hand, have more flexible membranes. So animal cells are much more diverse in their shapes.

  • Most of the space inside plant cells is made of of a large vacuole containing cell sap. Vacuoles in some types of plant cells serve to build stalks and stems. Animal cells never contain large vacuoles.

  • Plant cells contain plastids. Animal cells do not. The most noteworthy plastids are chloroplasts. These contain chlorophyll, a green chemical necessary for photosynthesis, which also gives plants their colour.

  • Animal cells have centrioles, which help in mitosis. Plant cells do not.

  • Plant cells have glyoxysomes. Animal cells do not.

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