Cells and Control


differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells

1 year ago


275 Replies




Elizabeth Dempsey

275 Answers

Raisa Bhuiyan

Eukraryotic cells have a membrane bound nucleus and organelles whilst prokaryotic cells have free floating DNA with no nucleus


Eukaryotic have nuclues and membrane bound organelles. While prokaryotic do not have any of these.

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Prokaryotic cells have no membrane-bound organelles including a nucleus. The DNA of many prokaryotes can be found in a chromosomal loop of DNA or in plasmids.

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Prokaryotic cells are single celled organisms such as bacteria and viruses. They do not have a nucleus but they contain DNA. Eukaryotic cells are present in multi-cellular organisms such as plants and animals and do contain a nucleus.

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Prokaryotic are always unicellular, while eukaryotic are usually multi-celled organisms.

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Prokaryotic cells do not have a membrane and are always a part of unicellular organisms , whereas eukaryotic cells are membrane-bound organisms and are mutlicelluar.

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Ali Hojabrian

The main difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells is that eukaryotic cells have membrane-bound organelles, meaning that their sub cellular components such as the mitochondria, and most importantly the nucleus (where the DNA is kept) are surrounded by an extra layer of protection known as a membrane.

In prokaryotic cells, all sub cellular structures are floating around in the cytoplasm, even the DNA; though the DNA is coiled up and mostly floats in an area of the cell known as the nucleoid.

There are some other major differences, such as prokaryotic are really small in comparison to eukaryotes, their chromosomes are circular and short, where as eukaryotes have linear and longer chromosomes and the type of ribosomes that they have are also different.

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Hi Elizabeth!

The main difference between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is how they store their DNA. Whilst eukaryotes contain this within a nucleus, prokaryotes contain a free-floating loop of DNA with plasmids. Prokaryotes are also usually single-celled (bacteria etc.), whilst eukaryotes make up multicellular organisms.

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Tharsshi Virupatchan

Here are the key differences:

1. Nucleus

  • Prokaryotic Cells: Lack a true nucleus. Their genetic material is not enclosed within a nuclear envelope but instead resides in a nucleoid region.
  • Eukaryotic Cells: Have a well-defined, membrane-bound nucleus that houses the cell's DNA.

2. Size

  • Prokaryotic Cells: Generally smaller, typically ranging from 0.1 to 5 micrometers in diameter.
  • Eukaryotic Cells: Larger, usually between 10 to 100 micrometers in diameter.

3. Cell Structure

  • Prokaryotic Cells: Simpler structure without membrane-bound organelles. They have ribosomes, but these are smaller and less complex than those in eukaryotic cells.
  • Eukaryotic Cells: More complex, containing numerous membrane-bound organelles, such as the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, and, in plant cells, chloroplasts.

4. Cell Wall

  • Prokaryotic Cells: Most have a rigid cell wall composed of peptidoglycan (in bacteria) or other polymers (in archaea).
  • Eukaryotic Cells: Plant and fungal cells have cell walls (composed of 

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Eukaryotic cells have membrane bound organelles whilst prokaryotic cells don't. For example, as the nucleus is a membrane bound organelle, prokaryotic cells don't have nuclei. Instead, they have their genetic material in a single chromosome of circular DNA (without any introns). Eukaryotic cells, on the other hand, have linear, protein-bound DNA containing introns. Prokaryotic cells also tend to be smaller, and contain 70S ribosomes, whilst eukaryotic cells contain 80S ribosomes. Prokaryotic cell walls are typically made up of peptidoglycan (murein), whilst eukaryotic cell walls, if present, are made of cellulose, or chitin in fungi.

You can actually link some of the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells to the endosymbiotic theory - that some eukaryotic organelles, e.g. mitochondria or chloroplasts, evolved from free-living prokaryotes.

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Prokaryotic cell have no nucleus but Eukaryotic cells have nucleus.

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Cell Structure:

  • Prokaryotic cells: They are typically smaller and simpler in structure. They lack a distinct nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles. Instead, their genetic material, DNA, is found in a single circular molecule called the nucleoid, floating freely in the cytoplasm.
  • Eukaryotic cells: These cells are larger and more complex. They have a well-defined nucleus, enclosed by a nuclear membrane, where the DNA is housed. In addition to the nucleus, eukaryotic cells contain various membrane-bound organelles such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and lysosomes.


  • Prokaryotic cells: Lack a true nucleus. The genetic material is not enclosed within a membrane-bound nucleus.
  • Eukaryotic cells: Have a true nucleus, which means the DNA is enclosed within a double-membrane structure, providing greater control over genetic material and cellular processes.


  • Prokaryotic cells: Have very few organelles. They contain ribosomes for protein synthesis and may have some specialized structures like the cell wall, plasma membrane, and flagella.
  • Eukaryotic cells: Contain a variety of membrane-bound organelles, each with specific functions. For example, mitochondria are involved in energy production, the endoplasmic reticulum is important for protein synthesis and transport, and the Golgi apparatus is involved in modifying and packaging molecules.

Cell Division:

  • Prokaryotic cells: Reproduce through binary fission, a simple and rapid process where the cell divides into two identical daughter cells.
  • Eukaryotic cells: Undergo mitosis for growth, development, and tissue repair, as well as meiosis for the production of gametes (sex cells) for sexual reproduction.

Examples of Organisms:

  • Prokaryotic cells: Found in unicellular organisms like bacteria and archaea.
  • Eukaryotic cells: Found in both unicellular organisms like protists and multicellular organisms, including plants, animals, fungi, and some protists.

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Adnan Ali


Prokaryotic: Lacks a true nucleus; genetic material is in the nucleoid region.

Eukaryotic: Contains a well-defined nucleus where genetic material is enclosed in a membrane.

Membrane-Bound Organelles:

Prokaryotic: Lacks membrane-bound organelles.

Eukaryotic: Contains various membrane-bound organelles like the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, and more.

Cell Size:

Prokaryotic: Generally smaller in size (1-5 micrometers).

Eukaryotic: Typically larger and more complex (10-100 micrometers).

Cell Division:

Prokaryotic: Reproduces through binary fission.

Eukaryotic: Undergoes mitosis or meiosis for cell division.

Genetic Material:

Prokaryotic: Usually a single, circular DNA molecule.

Eukaryotic: Multiple linear DNA molecules associated with histone proteins.


Prokaryotic: Smaller ribosomes (70S).

Eukaryotic: Larger ribosomes (80S).

Cell Wall:

Prokaryotic: May have a rigid cell wall made of peptidoglycan.

Eukaryotic: Plant cells have a cellulose cell wall; animal cells lack a cell wall.


Prokaryotic: Simpler flagella.

Eukaryotic: More complex flagella composed of microtubules.


Prokaryotic: Asexual reproduction is common.

Eukaryotic: Reproduction can be both asexual and sexual.

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Prokaryotic cells are simpler cells found in organisms like bacteria. They don't have a nucleus or any membrane-bound structures inside. Instead, their genetic material floats freely in the cytoplasm. Eukaryotic cells, found in plants, animals, and other organisms, are more complex. They have a nucleus surrounded by a membrane and various membrane-bound structures called organelles, like mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum. Eukaryotic cells are usually larger and more specialised than prokaryotic cells.

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Shmial Sohail

Hey Elizabeth, The prokaryotic cells are mainly bacterial cells and the eukaryotic cells are the human cells. Now the main difference between them can is that the prokaryotic cells have a cell wall whereas the eukaryotic cells do not. Another difference can be that the genetic material in the prokaryotic cells is not membrane-bound whereas in the eukaryotic cells they can be membrane-bound( nucleus). The eukaryotes have 80s ribosomes whereas the prokaryotes contain 70s ribosomes. The prokaryotes contain plasmids whereas the eukaryotes do not. There are also other differences but I hope this helps :)

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