Cells and Control


differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells

10 months ago


130 Replies




Elizabeth Dempsey

130 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 cells are bascially bacteria. They are characterised by, among other things, the lack of a nucleus containing genetic material - instead the genetic material is distributed freely in the cell. Eukaryotic cells have the genetic material confined to a nucleus which is clearly visible under the microscope...

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Celine Costa

Prokaryotic cells are found in prokaryotes that are always unicellular, eukaryotic cells are usually in multi-celled organisms. Eukaryotic cells are larger than prokaryotic cells. The DNA in eukaryotes is stored within the nucleus, while DNA of prokariotic cells is stored in the cytoplasm.

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A Prokaryotic cell does not have a true, membrane-bound nucleus, unlike a Eukaryotic cell.

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Khan Muhammad

Eukaryotic cells:

  • Contain a nucleus, a membrane-bound compartment that contains the cell's genetic material
  • Contain other membrane-bound organelles, such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi apparatus
  • Typically larger and more complex than prokaryotic cells
  • Found in organisms such as animals, plants, and fungi
  • Divide through a process called mitosis

Prokaryotic cells:

  • Lack a nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles
  • Have a single circular DNA molecule that is not enclosed in a membrane
  • Typically smaller and simpler in structure than eukaryotic cells
  • Found in organisms such as bacteria
  • Divide through a process called binary fission

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Hi Elizabeth,

Prokaryotic - these are simple cells with no distinct nucleus. The ‘pro’ means ‘before’ and ‘karyo’ refers to the nucleus. The best example of these may well be the simple bacterium.

Eukaryotic cells typically have ‘membrane bound organelles’ such as the nucleus, mitochondria and chloroplasts. The ‘Eu’ prefix comes from the Greek for ‘new’. On an evolutionary scale, eukaryotes are likely to be much ‘younger’ than prokaryotes. In fact, one of the domains used in classification is the Archaea - these are the ’older’ bacteria.

Hope this helps!

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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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Ivan Slavov

eukaryotes have membrane bound organelles such as a nucleus whereas prokaryotes don’t.

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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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Prokaryotic cells lack membrane bound organelles and are very small in comparison to eukaryotic cells. Prokaryotic genetic material is also not inside a nucleus unlike eukaryotic cells and is usually circular.

Prokaryotic ribosomes are also smaller.

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Hema Priya

Prokaryotic cells are always said to be unicellular, whereas a eukaryotic cell is said be multi-cellular.

Eukaryotic cells are said to be more complex and more than 100 to 10000 times larger than the prokaryotic cells.

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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