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Plant Cell vs. Bacterial Cell: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 18, 2023
Plant cells are eukaryotic with defined organelles and a cell wall made of cellulose, while bacterial cells are prokaryotic, smaller, and have a peptidoglycan cell wall.

Key Differences

Plant cells are fundamental units of plant life, belonging to the eukaryotic domain. This means they possess a nucleus enclosed within a nuclear envelope. Moreover, plant cells are distinct with their chloroplasts, which enable photosynthesis, a process converting light energy to chemical energy.
Bacterial cells, conversely, fall under the prokaryotic domain, lacking a true nucleus. Instead of a defined nucleus, their genetic material floats in a region called the nucleoid. Unlike plant cells, bacterial cells don't have membrane-bound organelles like mitochondria or chloroplasts.
The cell wall, a crucial structure providing support and shape, varies between these cell types. Plant cells have a rigid cell wall made primarily of cellulose. This cell wall supports the plant's upright growth and gives it structure. It's also the reason plant cells have a more rectangular shape.
Bacterial cells, on the other hand, have a cell wall made of peptidoglycan. This provides them with protection and structural integrity. The absence of certain organelles and a different cell wall composition makes bacterial cells generally smaller and more variable in shape compared to plant cells.

Comparison Chart

Cell Type



Defined nucleus with nuclear envelope
No true nucleus; has nucleoid region

Cell Wall Material



Contains membrane-bound organelles
Lacks membrane-bound organelles


Generally larger (10-100 µm)
Smaller, varies (0.5-5 µm)

Plant Cell and Bacterial Cell Definitions

Plant Cell

A eukaryotic cell type distinct from animal cells.
The presence of a cell wall differentiates a plant cell from an animal cell.

Bacterial Cell

Has a protective cell wall made of peptidoglycan.
Antibiotics target the peptidoglycan layer of the bacterial cell wall.

Plant Cell

The basic eukaryotic unit of plants containing a nucleus and organelles.
Chloroplasts in the plant cell enable it to perform photosynthesis.

Bacterial Cell

Lacks membrane-bound organelles like mitochondria.
The bacterial cell generates energy without the need for mitochondria.

Plant Cell

Contains a cell wall made primarily of cellulose.
The rigidity of the plant cell wall helps plants maintain their structure.

Bacterial Cell

Can have various shapes like cocci, bacilli, or spirals.
The shape of a bacterial cell can help in its identification.

Plant Cell

Capable of producing its energy through photosynthesis.
The green color of the plant cell is due to the chlorophyll within chloroplasts.

Bacterial Cell

Capable of rapid reproduction under suitable conditions.
In optimal conditions, a bacterial cell can divide every 20 minutes.

Plant Cell

Contains a large central vacuole for storing nutrients and waste.
The central vacuole in the plant cell helps maintain its turgor pressure.

Bacterial Cell

A prokaryotic cell without a true nucleus.
Genetic material in the bacterial cell is found in the nucleoid region.


Are bacterial cells always harmful?

No, many bacterial cells are beneficial and essential for processes like fermentation.

What provides rigidity to plant cells?

The cellulose cell wall provides rigidity to plant cells.

Are plant cells larger than bacterial cells?

Yes, plant cells are generally larger than bacterial cells.

What's the function of the nucleoid in a bacterial cell?

The nucleoid houses the bacterial cell's genetic material.

Do bacterial cells have chloroplasts?

No, bacterial cells don't have chloroplasts like plant cells.

Do plant cells have mitochondria?

Yes, plant cells contain mitochondria for energy production.

Can bacterial cells survive extreme conditions?

Some bacterial cells, like extremophiles, can survive in extreme conditions.

What's the role of chloroplasts in plant cells?

Chloroplasts in plant cells perform photosynthesis.

How do bacterial cells protect their genetic material without a nucleus?

The genetic material in a bacterial cell is clustered in the nucleoid region.

Why do plant cells have a large central vacuole?

The central vacuole stores nutrients, waste, and helps maintain turgor pressure.

Can plant cells move like some animal cells?

No, plant cells are stationary due to their rigid cell wall.

Can bacterial cells carry out photosynthesis?

Some bacteria, like cyanobacteria, can perform photosynthesis but not in the same manner as plant cells.

How do bacterial cells reproduce?

Bacterial cells reproduce through binary fission.

Can plant cells live independently?

While they function as part of a larger organism, some plant cells can survive for a time in specific conditions.

Do plant cells have a plasma membrane?

Yes, plant cells have a plasma membrane inside their cell wall.

What are pili in bacterial cells?

Pili are hair-like structures on bacterial cells used for attachment or DNA transfer.

Are bacterial cells multicellular organisms?

No, bacterial cells are unicellular organisms.

How do plant cells reproduce?

Plant cells reproduce via mitosis.

Do bacterial cells have ribosomes?

Yes, bacterial cells have smaller ribosomes than eukaryotic cells.

What gives plant cells their green color?

Chlorophyll in chloroplasts gives plant cells their green color.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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