Ed Golson Outdoor Education

Parts of the cell

Plant Cells versus Animal Cells

In the picture above you see two cells.  One is a plant cell and one is an animal cell.  Can you guess which one is which?  That's right, you guessed it, the one on the left is a plant cell, and the one on the right is an animal cell.  How can you determine this on your own?  Well by observing the cell parts labeled you will see that there are organelles in each cell.  Many of these organelles are in both cells but there are a few that are specific to the individual cell.  Scroll down to see if you can match the number to the organelle.  An organelle is any of the small parts inside a plant or animal cell.  Different types of organelle have different functions.

1- Cell Wall- This is the rigid wall that surrounds another membrane and keeps all the organelles inside the cell.  This is specific to the plant cell.  There are a variety of functions including protecting the cell, and regulating the life cycle of the plant organism.

2- Mitochondria- The mitochondria are sometimes considered the powerhouse of the cell.  This organelle belongs to both plant and animal cells.  The mitochondria are large organelles that produce ATP. This is a molecule that contains a lot of energy and is from the combination of, oxygen, and food.  The mitochondria contain their own DNA, RNA, and ribosomes thus allowing them to reproduce independently of the cell.

3-Vacuole- This organelle is present in both cells.  In plants it is a large part of the cell that stores compounds, helps in plant growth and also helps give the plant structure.  In animals it stores anything the cell might need for later use.

4-Golgi Apparatus- This is comprised of small sacs surrounded by membranes, and it is related to the endoplasmic reticulum.  The function is not completely understood yet, but it appears that the proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum go to the golgi apparatus, where they are put into sacs before reaching their final destination.

5-Cytoplasm- This is the jelly-like substance inside the cell that contains all the other organelles.  It is primarily made up of water and protein.

6-Nucleus- This controls all cell activities and it contains all the genetic material for the cell, or the DNA.  It is often the largest organelle in the cell. 

7-Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) - There are two types of ER, there is the rough ER which has many ribosomes attached to it and the ER takes in the proteins made by the ribosomes so that it cant escape into the cytoplasm.  The other type of ER is the smooth ER. It is called this because it doesn't have any ribosomes on it so it actually looks smooth.  Protein synthesis is not performed here, but the smooth ER has other functions.

8-Chloroplast-  These organelles are specific to plant cells.  These specialized organelles carry out the process of photosynthesis, which is converting light energy into chemical energy.  This energy is the food for the plant.

9- Lysosomes- These are sacs that contain digestive enzymes.  The function of these are to breakdown old or unneeded parts of the cell for possible reuse.

*There are over 100 different kinds of cells in the vertebrate animal.  Together they make up tissues and the tissues make up organs, like lungs, skin, bladder, etc.  Groups of organs make up the different kinds of systems in a body: digestive, excretory, and respiratory.

*These are the type of cells we are most familiar with called eukaryotic, but they are only one type of cell.  These cells have organelles and a nucleus.  There are other cells that do not have organelles however.  They are called prokaryotic. Prokaryotes are very simple cells that have only a cell membrane with cytoplasm inside.  Examples of prokaryotic cells are bacteria and certain types of algae.

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