Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes

Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes

Shiken premium Upgrade Banner

Eukaryotic cell structure

Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things. Whether it's an animal, plant, fungus, or bacteria, every part is made up of cells. It's like how a house is made up of different building blocks. Two main types of cells are prokaryotes and eukaryotes. They make up the foundation of all life.

Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structures

There are two types of cells: prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Prokaryotes are cells without a nucleus. Bacteria, for example, are unicellularprokaryotes, meaning they only have one cell. However, some organisms have one cell but still have a nucleus, so they are eukaryotes. Yeast is an example of this.

Eukaryotes, on the other hand, are cells with a nucleus. Eukaryotes can be multicellular, like humans, animals, and plants. Yeast is an exception because it is unicellular but still has a nucleus. Prokaryotes and eukaryotes have some similarities in their cell structure, but they also have differences. The figure below gives an overview of the cell structures we will discuss and shows their similarities and differences.

Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structures

Cell organelles

There are numerous cell organelles, and whether or not a cell is present will depend on the type of cell, its purpose, and whether the organism is prokaryotic or eukaryotic.

Cell membrane

Cell membranes are present in both bacterial and eukaryotic cells. This separates the contents of the cell from the medium around it. A few things can enter or leave a cell through the single membrane that makes up a cell.


The majority of chemical reactions occur in the cytoplasm, a jelly-like liquid found inside each cell. It has enzymes that regulate these chemical processes.


Proteins are generated in cells at the site of protein synthesis, which is the ribosome.

Eukaryotic cell structure

Prokaryotic cells are much simpler than eukaryotic cells because they are single-celled. They lack the ability to create specialized structures like tissues, organs, and organ systems found in eukaryotic cells, such as the cardiovascular system in humans.

Here are some characteristics unique to eukaryotic cells.


The nucleus contains most of a cell's genetic material. The eukaryotic cell's genetic material is stored in the nucleus (different in prokaryotic cells).


Mitochondria is where most of the reactions for aerobic respiration occur and this energy is needed for the cell to function properly.


Photosynthesis, which produces nourishment for the plant, takes place in the chloroplast. They contain chlorophyll, a green chemical that absorbs the light required for photosynthesis.


Cell sap, a watery mixture of salts and sugar, is present in the vacuole.


Prokaryotic cell structure

Prokaryotes, which include bacteria cells as an example, are cells having a nucleus. A bacterial cell has cytoplasm, a cell membrane, and a cell wall around it. Instead of a "real" nucleus, the cell possessesa single circular strand of DNA that is free to move around in the cytoplasm. Plasmids are tiny DNA rings that can be found inside bacterial cells in one or more instances.

Prokaryotic cell structure
Prokaryotic cell structure

Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes

What is cell structure?
Cell structure includes all the structures that make up a cell. Different cell types have different structures: Prokaryotes vary from eukaryotes. Plant cells have different structures than animal cells. And specified cells may have more or fewer organelles depending on the function of the cell. 

Which structure provides the most energy?
Though energy itself cannot be produced, energy-rich molecules can. This is mainly produced in the mitochondria in the process called aerobic respiration. 

What cell structures are found only in the eukaryotic cell?
Mitochondria, nucleus, chloroplasts (only plant cells), vacuoles.

What is the structure and function of the cell membrane?
This separates the cellular contents from the surrounding medium. The cell membrane is a single membrane and it allows certain substances to enter or leave thecell.

What structures are found in both plant and animal cells?
Mitochondria, cell membrane, nucleus, ribosomes, cytoplasm.

Join Shiken For FREE

Gumbo Study Buddy

Try Shiken Premium for free

Start creating interactive learning content in minutes with Shiken. 96% of learners report 2x faster learning.
Try Shiken for free
Free 14 day trial
Cancel anytime
20k+ learners globally
Shiken UI showing questions and overall results.