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Prokaryote structure
  1. Prokaryotic vs. Eukaryotic Cells: What's the Difference?
  2. Prokaryotic Cells – Biology 2e
  3. Structure of Prokaryotes
  4. Share This Book

By matter of definition , prokaryotic cells tend to be the simplest, tiniest, and most ancient of cells here on earth. Most other organisms that fall outside of the Bacteria and Archaea categories are placed in the Eukarya group and are made up of eukaryotic cells.

Prokaryotic vs. Eukaryotic Cells: What's the Difference?

Eukaryotes are not limited by the number of cells there are in the organism. They can be single-celled or have many millions of cells. Eukaryotes include plants, animals, and fungi, as well as other organisms, such as protists and some algae.

Prokaryotes developed earliest in the history of life on earth, with Eukaryotes developing around 2. Over time, the prokaryotes and their hosts evolved together until one could not function without the other. Enough of the evolutionary background, though, what separates these two types of cells? To properly break down the differences of these cells, we'll break down the explanation into specific parts of each cell — starting with the nucleus and DNA.

Eukaryotic cells are comprised of a nucleus surrounded by an envelope made up of two membranes. The nucleus in eukaryotic cells holds the DNA. In Prokaryotic cells, on the other hand, there is no nucleus, but rather a nucleoid region that has no separate membrane. This region of the cell holds the DNA, which is generally free-floating. Eukaryotic cells have multiple linear chromosomes which undergo meiosis and mitosis as the eukaryotic cells replicate.

However, the cells of prokaryotic organisms usually contain just one, circular chromosome.

Prokaryotic Cells – Biology 2e

But, some studies have shown that some prokaryotes may have as many as four chromosomes. Eukaryotic cells contain multiple, membrane-bound organelles that are not present in the simpler prokaryotic cells. These include organelles such as the mitochondria the powerhouse of the cell , endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi complex and, in plant cells, chloroplasts.

All of these individual organelles are contained in the cytoplasm of the eukaryotic cell. Prokaryotic cells also have cytoplasm, but it doesn't house any membrane-bound organelles.

  • Comparing Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells – Principles of Biology: Biology , , and .
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Both types of cells have ribosomes, but in eukaryotic cells , the ribosomes are bigger and more complex. They are also bound by a membrane and may be found in the cytoplasm, nuclear membrane, and even the endoplasmic reticulum. In prokaryotic cells, on the other hand, the ribosomes are scattered and floating freely throughout the cytoplasm.

Structure of Prokaryotes

Stepping back for a moment, Ribosomes are complex macromolecules which synthesize proteins. These proteins are essential to cell function and repair. One notable difference between the ribosomes in both cells are the size of the pieces that make them up. In both types of cells, the ribosomes are made up of two subunits, a small one and a large one.

Endosymbiotic Theory

In Eukaryotes, these subunits are larger, recognized as 60S and 40S the S stands for ' svedbergs,' a unit used to measure how fast molecules move in a centrifuge. Prokaryotes are divided into two distinct groups: the bacteria and the archaea, which scientists believe have unique evolutionary lineages. Most prokaryotes are small, single-celled organisms that have a relatively simple structure.

Prokaryotic cells are surrounded by a plasma membrane, but they have no internal membrane-bound organelles within their cytoplasm.

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The absence of a nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles differentiates prokaryotes from another class of organisms called eukaryotes. Most prokaryotes carry a small amount of genetic material in the form of a single molecule, or chromosome, of circular DNA.

The DNA in prokaryotes is contained in a central area of the cell called the nucleoid, which is not surrounded by a nuclear membrane. Many prokaryotes also carry small, circular DNA molecules called plasmids, which are distinct from the chromosomal DNA and can provide genetic advantages in specific environments. Further Exploration Concept Links for further exploration plasmid cell genome chromosome conjugation prokaryotes transformation prokaryotes transduction prokaryotes eukaryote archaea eubacteria.