What's Similar and Different?

Prokaryotic cells are very primitive and basic compared to the much more complex eukaryotic cells.


"Pro" means "before" and "karyon" means "nucleus", so prokaryotic literally means "before nucleus." This makes sense as prokaryotes do not have membrane-bound nucleus. The only membrane in a prokaryotic cell is the plasma membrane that surrounds the cell itself. The genetic material contained in the cell floats in the cell's cytoplasm, with the only oraganelle in the cell being the ribosomes. Prokaryotes are single-celled most of the time, and they reproduce through binary fission, where they duplicate their genetic material and split in two to form daughter cells that are identical to the parent.


"Eu" means true and "karyon" means "nucleus", so eukaryotic literally means "true nucleus." Since eukaryotes have a membrane-bound nucleus, the cell's conrol center, the name fits. The nucleus is double membrane bound and stores the cell's genetic material, DNA, so it is separated from the rest of the cell. The cell is surrounded by a plasma membrane to hold the cell together, along with other functions. The cell contains many organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, that help the cell to grow, thrive, reproduce, and survive. Some organelles, such as the ones listed above, can be membrane-bound. Eukaryotic cells reproduce via meiosis (sexual) or mitosis (division).


- Both cells have a name based around "karyon" (nucleus)
- Both cells are membrane-bound
- Both cells contain genetic material
- Both cells reproduce
- Both cells contain at least one organelle