When we want to categorize organisms at an advanced level we can divide them into Eukaryotic organisms and Prokaryotic organisms. This distinction of organisms is seen to be the most important distinction for all groups of organisms. Eukaryotic celled organisms have membrane bound cell organelles such as mitochondria, Golgi apparatus and so on. While prokaryotic celled organisms don’t have membrane bound organelles. Prokaryotes were the only form of life on earth millions of years ago before evolution led to the creation of the more complex Eukaryotic celled organisms. There are a lot differences between the two types of cells. So, let me explain them one by one.
- Type of organism:
Most single celled organisms such as bacteria are Prokaryotic in nature, they can be multi cellular but are predominantly single celled organisms. On the other hand Eukaryotes are the animals, plants, algae and other forms of life that are more complex and predominantly multi cellular in nature. We humans are Eukaryotes. Viruses aren’t cell based organisms and don’t come under both Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes. The more complex organisms are generally Eukaryotic in nature.
- Cell organelles:
Prokaryotes don’t have cell organelles such as mitochondria, Golgi apparatus and so on. The nucleus isn’t found on a Prokaryotic cell, the nucleus in a Prokaryotic organism is found floating in the cytoplasm but on a Eukaryotic cell the nucleus is enclosed and identifiable. Prokaryotes are very simple unlike Eukaryotes that have specialized cell organelles, In Eukaryotes the mitochondria and chloroplasts perform various specialized metabolic processes, similar processes can be found on Prokaryotes across the cell membrane unlike in Eukaryotes where these processes occur in contained cell organelles. Eukaryotes because of their structure also come together to form more complex organisms. Because of how cell organelles are part of the structure of a Eukaryotic cell, the processes are much more efficient and faster as there are no chemical interferences, different compounds don’t get in each other’s ways and at cellular level molecules aren’t tiny specks but rather large beams and cranes. The lack of cell organelles however doesn’t make prokaryotes the inferior organism. Their simplicity helps them in many ways. Greater simplicity means that Prokaryotes multiply much more quickly and also using lesser energy in the process. Faster Reproduction also leads to faster adaptation and mutation which lets Prokaryotes adapt to different environments faster and develop very diverse metabolic pathways. Their simpler structure also means that it’s easier for them to live in the harshest of conditions. conditions which would kill other organisms. Prokaryotes can live in conditions so harsh that almost any other organism in the same conditions are bound to perish. Prokaryotes have been found living in pools of acid, on ocean floor’s and even in highly radiation drenched toxic areas. Prokaryotes are also the only organism capable of breaking down the tri-atom nitrogen gas and create nitrogen compounds that are vital for a lot of Eukaryotes.
- Genetic Material:
Prokaryotes only contain one single circular or looped strand of chromosomal DNA stored in an area called the nucleoid while Eukaryotes have DNA that have organized chromosomes which are very tightly packed in a nucleus. This allows Eukaryotes to contain much more genetic data. An average Prokaryote only carries 0.001% of the genetic material found on a Eukaryote. A Eukaryotes DNA is kept as safe as possible and the recreating of DNA and reading of DNA is also much faster when compared to Prokaryotes. Prokaryotic celled organisms have their genetic material floating in the cytoplasm and this might leave them open to Physical and Chemical alterations unlike in Eukaryotes. It is however easy for Prokaryotes to share genetic data across populations because of their use of plasmids.
Prokaryotes reproduce through a cell division process known as binary fission. This process involves the copying the chromosome and separating a cell into two. It is an asexual form of reproduction meaning that it does not require the production of sperm or eggs or mixing of genetic material from two individual organisms. In case of Binary Fission occurring you get daughter cells that are identical to the parent cell unless in rare occurrences of mutation. This allows Prokaryotes to reproduce faster than the Multicellular Eukaryotic organisms. A testament to this fact would be that Prokaryotes are the most abundant form of life in this world. Reproduction in Eukaryotes is rather a more complex process that involves sexual reproduction. This involves the fusion of gametes. This is a much slower process compared to Binary fission.
These are the primary differences between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells.