Prokaryotic Cell

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Prokaryotic cells are not as complex as eukaryotic cells. They have no true nucleus as the DNA is not contained within a membrane or separated from the rest of the cell, but is coiled up in a region of the cytoplasm called the nucleoid. Using bacteria as our sample prokaryote, the following structures can be found in bacterial cells:

Capsule - Found in some bacterial cells, this additional outer covering protects the cell when it is engulfed by other organisms, assists in retaining moisture, and helps the cell adhere to surfaces and nutrients.

Cell Wall - Outer covering of most cells that protects the bacterial cell and gives it shape.

Cytoplasm - A gel-like substance composed mainly of water that also contains enzymes, salts, cell components, and various organic molecules.

Cell Membrane or Plasma Membrane - Surrounds the cell's cytoplasm and regulates the flow of substances in and out of the cell.

Pili - Hair-like structures on the surface of the cell that attach to other bacterial cells. Shorter pili called fimbriae help bacteria attach to surfaces.

Flagella - Long, whip-like protrusion that aids in cellular locomotion.

Ribosomes - Cell structures responsible for protein production.

Plasmids - Gene carrying, circular DNA structures that are not involved in reproduction.

Nucleiod Region - Area of the cytoplasm that contains the single bacterial DNA molecule.

Most prokaryotes reproduce asexually through a process called binary fission. During binary fission, the single DNA molecule replicates and the original cell is divided into two identical cells. Binary fission begins with the single DNA molecule replicating and both copies attaching to the cell membrane. Next, the cell membrane begins to grow between the two DNA molecules. Once the bacterium just about doubles its original size, the cell membrane begins to pinch inward. A cell wall then forms between the two DNA molecules dividing the original cell into two identical daughter cells.

Eukaryotic Cells

Figure 3.

Figure 4. Eukaryotic cells can be easily distinguished through a membrane-bound nucleus. They contain many membrane-bound organelles which perform metabolic functions and energy conversion.




The “brains” of the cell, the nucleus directs cell activities and contains genetic material called chromosomes made of DNA.


Make energy out of food


Make protein

Golgi Apparatus

Make, process and package proteins Contains digestive enzymes to help break food down Called the "intracellular highway" because it is for transporting all sorts of items around the cell.


Endoplasmic Reticulum


Used for storage, vacuoles usually contain water or food. (Are you are thirsty? Perhaps your vacuoles need some water!)

Plant cells also have:


Use sunlight to create food by photosynthesis

Cell Wall

For support

Illustration List
Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4.

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