Eukaryotes and prokaryotes

Bacteria are amongst the simplest of organisms - they are made of single cells. Their cell structure is simpler than the cells of animals, plants and fungi.

Cells of animals, plants and fungi are called eukaryotic cells.

Cells of bacteria are called prokaryotic cells.

Diagram of a bacteria cellAnimal and plant cells. Both share cytoplasm, nucleus, ribosome, mitochondrion and cell membrane. Plant cells have chloroplast, vacuole and cell wall.Eukaryotic cells

The two types of cell compared:

FeatureEukaryotic cellProkaryotic cell
SizeMost are 5–100 μmMost are 0.2–2.0 μm
Outer layers of cellCell membrane. Surrounded by cell wall in plants and fungi.Cell membrane. Surrounded by cell wall.
Cell contentsCytoplasm. Cell organelles include mitochondria, chloroplasts in plants and ribosomes.Cytoplasm. Ribosomes present. There are no mitochondria or chloroplasts.
Genetic materialDNA in a nucleus. Plasmids are found in a few simple eukaryotic organisms.DNA is a single molecule that is found free in the cytoplasm. Additional DNA is found on one or more rings called plasmids.
Type of cell divisionMitosisBinary fission

A group of organisms called Archaea are also prokaryotic.