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Sixth Grade Science Name ________________ Unit 7 – Cells March 16, 2010 Plant Cells and Animal Cells How are plant cells different from animal cells? Even though cells vary greatly between the different types, there are somethings that they all have in common. For example, even though blood cells and bone cells look very different, they are both animal cells and will always have a nucleus, a cell membrane, and so on. There are two characteristics, however, that are true of all animal cells and all plant cells and distinguish them from each other. If you examine a plant cell closely, you will see many similarities with animal cells. Plant cells have vacuoles, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, and other organelles, just like animal cells. The two main differences, however, are the presence of chloroplasts and a rigid cell wall. All plant cells contain chloroplasts, which are organelles containing a chemical called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll allows plants to make usable energy from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. On the exterior of a plant cell, it has a cell membrane much like animal cells. It has a rigid cell wall, however, that animal cells do not. Think for a moment about animals. What gives most animals their structure? Most animals have some sort of skeleton – either an internal endoskeleton or an external exoskeleton. Mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians have endoskeletons made of bone or cartilege. Insects and other arthropods like lobster and shrimp have exoskeletons that provide structure. Do plants have endo- or exoskeletons? Plants get their structure and strength from their fibrous cell walls. Each cell is contained inside a strong casing of fiber. These cell walls are connected to each other and make a structure similar to honeycomb that the cells live inside. Within the cell walls, plant cells have a cell membrane, similar to animal cells. One final minor difference between plant and animal cells is in their vacuoles. Usually, animal cells have many smaller vacuoles, while plant cells usually have one large vacuole.
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