Biology » Introducing the Cell » Cell Organelles

Plant and Animal Cell Differences

The Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells

Now that we have looked at the basic structures and functions of the organelles in a cell, you would have noticed that there are key differences between plant and animal cells. The table below summarises these differences.

Animal CellsPlant Cells
Do not contain plastids.Almost all plants cells contain plastids such chloroplasts, chromoplasts and leucoplasts.
No cell wall.Have a rigid cellulose cell wall in addition to the cell membrane.
Contain centrioles.Do not contain centrioles.
Animals do not have plasmodesmata or pits.Contain plasmodesmata and pits.
Few vacuoles (if any).Large central vacuole filled with cell sap in mature cells.
Nucleus is generally found at the centre of the cytoplasm.Nucleus is found near the edge of the cell.
No intercellular spaces found between the cells.Large intercellular air spaces found between some cells.

Investigation: Examining Plant Cells Under the Microscope


To study the microscopic structures of plant cells


  • onion
  • blade
  • slides and coverslips
  • brushes
  • compound microscope
  • tissue paper
  • forceps
  • dropper
  • iodine solution
  • watchglass
  • petri dish containing water
  • iodine solution


  1. Peel off the outer most layer of an onion carefully, using a pair of forceps.
  2. Place the peeled layer in a watchglass containing water. Make certain that the onion peel does not roll or fold.
  3. Using a scalpel or a thin blade, cut a square piece of the onion peel (about 1 cm2).
  4. Remove the thin transparent skin from the inside curve of a small piece of raw onion and place it on a drop of iodine solution on a clean slide.
  5. Cover the peel with a coverslip ensuring that no bubbles are formed.
  6. Using a piece of tissue paper wipe off any excess iodine solution remaining on the slide.
  7. Observe the onion skin under low power of the microscope and then under high power.
  8. Draw a neat diagram of 5-10 cells of the typical cells you can see.


Investigation: Examining Animal Cells Under the Microscope


to study the microscopic structures of human cheek cells under a compound microscope


  • clean ear bud
  • clean slide
  • methylene blue
  • dropper
  • water
  • tissue paper
  • forceps
  • microscope


  1. Place a drop of water on a clean glass slide.
  2. Using a clean ear bud, wipe the inside of your cheek. The ear bud will collect a moist film.
  3. Spread the moist film on a drop of water on a clean glass slide, creating a small smear on the slide.
  4. Use a coverslip to cover the slide gently.
  5. Place one or two drops of stain on the side of the cover slip.
  6. Use a piece of tissue to remove the excess dye.
  7. Observe the cheek cells under low power magnification and then under high power magnification.


  1. What are the shapes of epidermal cells of the onion peel and the human cheek cells?
  2. Why is iodine used to stain the onion peel?
  3. What is the difference between the arrangement of cells in onion cells and in human cheek cells?
  4. Why is a cell considered the structural and functional unit of living things?


[Attributions and Licenses]

This is a lesson from the tutorial, Introducing the Cell and you are encouraged to log in or register, so that you can track your progress.

Log In

Share Thoughts