Animal cells and plant cells share some common features, but they also have distinct differences in their structures due to their different functions and evolutionary adaptations.
Cell Wall: Plant cells have a rigid cell wall composed primarily of cellulose, lignin, pectin, which provides structural support and protection. Animal cells do not have a cell wall, but instead have a flexible cell membrane that regulates cell shape and the movement of substances in and out of the cell.
Chloroplasts: Plant cells contain chloroplasts, which are responsible for photosynthesis and contain the pigment chlorophyll. Chloroplasts are absent in animal cells, as animals obtain their energy from consuming other organisms rather than synthesizing it through photosynthesis.
Vacuoles: Plant cells typically have a large central vacuole that occupies a significant portion of the cell's volume. This vacuole stores water, ions, pigments, and other substances, providing support and maintaining pressure. Most animal cells do not have vesicles, but there are some cells with vesicles. They are not as functionally rich as plant vesicles. For example, the notochord cells contain vesicles to increase their strength.
Shape: Animal cells are generally rounded or irregular in shape. Since they are not restrained by a cell wall, they are free to change shape under the regulation of the cytoskeleton. Plant cells, on the other hand, often have a more regular shape and are organized into specific tissues and structures, such as leaves, stems, and roots.
Plasmodesmata: Plant cells are interconnected by channels called plasmodesmata, which allow for communication and transport of molecules between adjacent cells. Animal cells do not have plasmodesmata, and intercellular communication occurs primarily through direct contact or through specialized structures like gap junctions.
Lysosomes: Animal cells contain many lysosomes, which are membrane-bound organelles involved in the breakdown of cellular waste and foreign materials. Plant cells have fewer lysosomes, and their waste management is often handled by specialized organelles called peroxisomes and vacuoles.
Cilia and Flagella: Animal cells may have structures called cilia or flagella, which are involved in cell motility and movement. While some plant cells may have structures similar to cilia or flagella, they are typically limited to reproductive cells like sperm cells in plants.