Eukaryotic cells are found in either unicellular or multi-cellular organisms and are complex cells which have the defining feature of maintaining multiple organelles and a membrane-bound nucleus. In comparison to prokaryotic cells, eukaryotic cells contain a true nucleus. The majority of eukaryotic organisms are multi-cellular, although some unicellular organisms are amoeba and paramecium.
Every living organism is made up of cells, which is one of the principles of the cell theory. It is the cell which contains the machinery necessary to perform tasks, such as produce proteins and produce energy, which is essential to life. Figure 1 provides a schematic image of a eukaryotic cell.
Figure 1. This image is a depiction of a eukaryotic cell and all of the organelles which it contains. The genetic material is contained within the nucleus.1
Additionally, there are two main types of eukaryotic cells, these are animal and plant cells. There are a few major differences between animal and plant cells:
- The shape of the cells: Animal cells are circular and plants cells are rectangular in shape.
- Plant cells contain a cell wall and animal cells do not.
- Plant cell contain photosynthetic machinery called chloroplasts which are not in animal cells.
- Plant cells contain one large vacuole which takes up a large portion of the cell volume. Conversely, animal cells contain multiple, small vacuoles.
1. Wikimedia Commons. (2014). Eukaryote. Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eukaryotic_Cell_(animal).jpg
Title Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.