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Plant Cells and Animal Cells

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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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